Saturday's BIG EAST action saw 13 teams take the court, with six league games and one nonconference game. Four road teams won conference matchups, including Rutgers Villanova, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Providence and Notre Dame each held serve on their home courts, while Connecticut grabbed a win in a nonconference affair against Tennessee.
No. 7/7 Villanova (17-2, 5-1 BIG EAST) went on the road to beat No. 3/3 Syracuse 83-72 in front of the largest crowd to watch a college basketball game this season as 33,736 people packed into the Carrier Dome. The Wildcats used a barrage of 3-pointers to defeat the Orange (18-2, 5-2 BIG EAST), hitting a season high 11 from beyond the arc including eight in the first half. Guard Maalik Wayns had a team-high 21 points, scoring 17 of those in the first half to pace Villanova. VU won for the 13th time at the Carrier Dome, the most wins for any team at the Dome in the BIG EAST. The squad built a double-digit lead just 10 minutes into the game and held that throughout the remainder of the first half.
Syracuse tried to put together a late rally, coming as close as four with 2:47 to play after a Kris Joseph dunk. Joseph led the Orange with 23 points while Rick Jackson added 16 points and 15 rebounds. Villanova drained its foul shots down the stretch to close out the win. The Wildcats were 22-of-24 from the charity stripe.
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No. 16/16 Notre Dame (16-4, 5-3 BIG EAST) got a career-high 28 points from guard Ben Hansbrough as the Irish rallied past Marquette 80-75. Hansbrough shot 10-of-15 from the field including 6-of-6 at the free throw line and scored seven-straight points during a decisive sequence midway through the second half to help the Fighting Irish come back from a 12-point deficit. Forward Carleton Scott had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The score was tied at 57 when Hansbrough hit an off-balance 3 to give the Irish the lead. The senior added a dunk and a lay-up in a stretch when he outscored Marquette 7-3 to give Notre Dame a 64-60 advantage. The Golden Eagles (13-7, 4-3 BIG EAST) were paced by 25 points from guard Darius Johnson-Odom while Jae Crowder added 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. ND improved to 13-0 at home this season.
Providence (12-8, 1-6 BIG EAST) earned its first BIG EAST win, defeating No. 19/15 Louisville 72-67 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The victory broke a 17-game BIG EAST losing streak for the Friars, who were paced by 27 points from forward Marshon Brooks. Freshman Gerard Coleman had a career-high 19 points (12 in the first half), and Vincent Council hit a pair of jumpers in traffic in the final minutes to lift the Friars to the win. The score was tied at 61 with under four to play when Brooks hit a 3-pointer that gave Providence the lead for good. Louisville was led by guard Chris Smith, who had a career-high 19 points, but Louisville's leading scorer Preston Knowles was held to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
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No. 25/rv Cincinnati (17-3, 4-3 BIG EAST) went on the road to knock-off St. John's 53-51. Trailing 51-50 in the final seconds, forward Yancy Gates scored while getting fouled for a three-point play that gave the Bearcats the two-point victory. He finished with 13 points and eight rebounds to lead Cincinnati. Guard Dwight Hardy missed a tough runner with three seconds left and St. John's couldn't finish the tip-in in the final seconds. Hardy and D.J. Kennedy each scored 10 points to lead the Red Storm (11-7, 4-4 BIG EAST).
Rutgers (12-7, 3-4 BIG EAST) went on the road to beat in-state rival Seton Hall 66-60. Guard Dane Miller paced the Scarlet Knights, scoring 15 of his game-high 17 points in the second half. Jonathan Mitchell added 14 points and Gilvydas Biruta notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Rutgers limited the Pirates (8-2, 2-6 BIG EAST) to 32 percent shooting from the field. Herb Pope had a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds in the losing effort for The Hall.
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No. 4/4 Pittsburgh (19-1, 7-0 BIG EAST) won its ninth-straight game, defeating DePaul 80-50 on the road. Forward Gilbert Brown scored a game-high 17 points and guard Ashton Gibbs added 13 to pace the Panthers. Pitt trailed 14-12 midway through the first half, but Gibbs made a jumper that capped a 7-0 run to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish. The Blue Demons (6-13, 0-7 BIG EAST) made another run at Pittsburgh in the second half to get within seven, but an 18-3 Panthers' run late put the game out of reach. Forward Cleveland Melvin led DePaul with 11 points.
In front of a sold out crowd at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., No. 8/8 Connecticut (16-2, 4-2 BIG EAST) defeated Tennessee 82-71 to win its fifth-straight game. Guard Kemba Walker was held to a season-low 16 points, but the Huskies had three other players in double figures to pace the offense. Guard Jeremy Lamb added 16 points of his own while forwards Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith each had 12. Oriakhi contributed 10 rebounds for a double-double. Smith's three early in the second half broke a 41-all tie and gave the Huskies the lead for good. The squad would put the game out of reach with a quick five points, capped by an Oriakhi dunk that gave UConn a 65-54 advantage with under five minutes to play.
Sunday's lone contest has USF visiting West Virginia at 2 p.m. A win by the Mountaineers puts them in a three-way tie for fourth place with Connecticut and Louisville. The Bulls are looking for their first road win this season.