Men's Basketball Weekly Report- Dec. 23

Purnell, Dixon Reach Milestones Wednesday
DePaul coach Oliver Purnell and Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon both reached milestones with victories Wednesday.  Purnell registered his 400th career win when DePaul defeated Florida Atlantic 71-62.  In his 23rd season as a head coach, Purnell is in his first year with the Blue Demons.  Dixon, who is in only his eighth season as head coach, tied the NCAA Division I record for fastest to 200 wins by his eighth year.  The Panthers defeated American 61-46 for Dixon's 200th.
BIG EAST Conference Play Starts With A Top 10 Matchup
The holiday season is here.  The college bowl schedule intensifies after Christmas.  The NFL regular season is winding down.  But make sure you don't miss the start of BIG EAST conference play, Monday, Dec. 27, with a matchup of top 10 teams.  Undefeated and fourth-ranked Connecticut plays at sixth-ranked Pittsburgh.  ESPN2 will carry the game at 8:30 p.m. ET.  The game likely will be the only battle between top 10 teams nationally for at least the next two weeks.  Here are the league contests early next week:
                Dec. 27 - No. 4/4 Connecticut at No. 6/6 Pittsburgh (ESPN2), 8:30 p.m.
                None of the last 10 meetings between the two teams have been decided by more than 10 points.  UConn guard Kemba Walker leads the country in scoring at 26.5 ppg.  Pitt, the preseason favorite, will counter in the backcourt with Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker.  
                Dec. 28 - DePaul at Cincinnati, 7 p.m.
                The Bearcats will be 12-0 if they beat St. Francis (Pa.) Thursday night.  They are among the best in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 53.6 ppg.  DePaul coach Oliver Purnell will be coaching his first BIG EAST game.  The Blue Demons have won three in a row.
                Dec. 28 - Providence at No. 5/5 Syracuse (ESPNU), 9 p.m.
                Providence is 11-2 and led by forward Marshon Brooks who is second in the BIG EAST in scoring (23.1 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (8.9).  Syracuse is 13-0 and anchored by forward Rick Jackson who already has nine double-doubles.
                Dec. 28 - USF at Seton Hall, 7 p.m.
                Seton Hall's Kevin Willard will make his BIG EAST head coaching debut.  The strong USF frontcourt, led by New York City native Jarrid Famous, has consistently won the rebounding battles.
                Dec. 29 - No. 10/9 Georgetown at No. 22/20 Notre Dame (ESPN2), 7 p.m.
                Both teams look like BIG EAST contenders again in this battle between ranked teams.  Both squads are averaging more than 80 points per game.  The Hoyas look to their three-guard attack of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark.  The Irish offense starts with forward Tim Abromaitis and guard Ben Hansbrough.
                Dec. 29 - St. John's at West Virginia, 7 p.m.
                St. John's coach Steve Lavin gets his first taste of BIG EAST action.  The Red Storm have won the MSG Holiday Festival and the Great Alaska Shootout.  The Mountaineers are 8-2 and just out of the national polls.  Guard Casey Mitchell has stepped up offensively, averaging 17.5 ppg.