Men's Basketball Roundup - Nov. 23

A busy Tuesday in the BIG EAST saw a young Connecticut team ride the hot hand of veteran guard Kemba Walker to a 70-67 win against No. 2 Michigan State in the first game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. (Highlights) Connecticut (4-0) fought the Spartans for every inch every minute, refusing to be pushed around by a team projected to be a national title contender. The Huskies made it interesting by missing five late free throws, but survived Draymond Green's midcourt heave at the buzzer. Walker hit a fallaway jumper with 52 seconds left and Alex Oriakhi dominated inside for 15 points and 17 rebounds, sending UConn into the championship game against No. 8 Kentucky or No. 13 Washington. Marquette nearly made it two wins against top-25 opponents for the BIG EAST Tuesday, but the Golden Eagles came up just short in a 66-63 setback to No. 22/18 Gonzaga in the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City, Mo. (Highlights) Guard Jimmy Butler had 22 points for Marquette, but the Golden Eagles were outrebounded by a 40-24 margin, falling to 4-2, with both losses to top-25 teams. No. 5/5 Pittsburgh improved to 6-0 after the Panthers pulled away from Robert Morris for a 74-53 win at the Petersen Events Center. Guard Ashton Gibbs scored 20 points against last year's Northeast Conference champion, helping the Panthers to their 100th win in their last 101 nonconference home games. USF picked up its third win of the season as the Bulls scored a 60-43 win against Liberty at the Sun Dome. Forward Ron Anderson Jr. had 15 first-half rebounds to help USF take a 15-point halftime lead, while Mike Burwell shouldered the scoring load with 15 points. Anderson, who had 16 rebounds in the Bulls' four previous games combined, finished with 17 boards for USF (3-2). Rutgers won its third straight Tuesday as the Scarlet Knights placed five players in double figures in an 83-59 win against Norfolk State at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Guard James Beatty shot 6-of-8 from the field to finish with 18 points for the hot-shooting Scarlet Knights (3-1), who made 9-of-16 3-pointers on the day. Providence fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as the Friars fell 84-73 to La Salle in the first round of the Cancun Challenge. The Friars got 20 points from forward Marshon Brooks, but Providence was unable to offset a a 59-31 disadvantage on the glass. Wednesday's schedule has four BIG EAST teams in action. Villanova takes on UCLA in the semifinals round of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off from Madison Square Garden (9 p.m., ESPN2). Connecticut will face either Kentucky or Washington in the championship game of the Maui Invitational (10 p.m. ET, ESPN). Cincinnati will host Savannah State at 7 p.m. in the Global Sports Main Event, while Providence faces Wyoming in the Cancun Challenge (7 p.m., CBS College Sports). Night owls can get a head start on Thursday's action as well as St. John's meets Ball State in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Red Storm play at 1:45 a.m. ET Thanksgiving morning.