NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Dominic Cheek #23 of the Villanova Wildcats drives to the hoop against the South Florida Bulls during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The Big East only had a 3-2 day in Tuesday's basketball action. #5 Syracuse, #20 Cincinnati and Villanova continued on unbeaten this season while Rutgers and West Virginia suffered their first setbacks.
Miami's hot start at home on Tuesday was enough to hold off Rutgers (1-1). The Hurricanes had a 20-6 lead before half of the first frame was gone. The lead would later balloon to 19. Rutgers made a run at the end of the half to cut the deficit to 10 at halftime. A long Miami scoreless drought in the second half allowed the Scarlet Knights to cut the lead to six, but that's as close as they would get in a 72-57 loss. Miami only made 12 of their 21 free throws, but Rutgers was 0-6 from the free throw line. Austin Carroll and Eli Carter were the only players in double figures for Rutgers with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Miami was led by 19 points apiece from Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant.
West Virginia (1-1) was the first Big East team to lose, breaking a 28-0 start to the season for the conference. The Mountaineers lost at home for the first time in 36 non-conference games when they fell to Kent State 70-60. West Virginia had a 41-36 with 16:13 left to play and let it slip away when the Golden Flashes went on a 15-3 run in a little over four minutes. Carlton Guyton led the way for Kent State with 17 points and 4 assists. West Virginia had a very poor shooting night from the floor (36.8%) and from the free throw line (57.1%). If the Mountaineers had made more of their 28 free throws or cut down on their 17 turnovers, the game would have looked completely different as they nearly doubled up Kent State on the boards.
Syracuse (3-0) beat a scrappy Albany team led by guard Gerardo Suero 98-74. Suero led the Great Danes in points (31), steals (2), assists (4) and rebounds (6). Kris Joseph and James Southerland tied for the Syracuse scoring lead with 19 points. The win advances the Orange to the semifinal round of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Syracuse, the 1 seed, will meet the 4 seed Virginia Tech on Nov. 23 at Madison Square Garden (click here to see the full bracket). The game will be played at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
- Cincinnati (2-0) defeated Jacksonville State 73-59. The Bearcats raced out to a 44-21 halftime lead and then packed it in with a 27-point lead in the second half. Jacksonville State fought back and outscored the Bearcats 38-29 in the second half. Cincinnati once again was sloppy with the ball and finished with 20 turnovers. Cashmere Wright and Dion Dixon combined to score 43 points for the Bearcats.
- Villanova (2-0) needed overtime to turn in a 76-69 win against La Salle. The Wildcats trailed by six with just 1:26 left in the second half. Tyreek Duren led the Explorers with 24 points on 8-17 shooting. Maalik Wayns was only 5-16 from the floor but led Villanova with 22 points because of a perfect 10-10 night at the free throw line. Dominic Cheek scored 8 of his 18 points in the overtime period. Mouphtaou Yarou had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.