There were five Big East basketball games on Wednesday. The No. 25 Louisville Cardinals defeated the Villanova Wildcats in the marquee game. The DePaul Blue Demons were able to defeat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the RAC, something the Florida Gators and the Connecticut Huskies couldn't do this season. The Pittsburgh Panthers were also able to get rid of their bagel in the Big East win column. The St. John's Red Storm picked up their third Big East win and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dropped the Seton Hall Pirates to .500 in league play.
No. 25 Louisville 84, Villanova 74: Louisville is back to .500 in Big East play with a win over Villanova. The Wildcats led at the half, 44-39, and played the game close down to the wire. Peyton Siva led the Cards over the final 2:56 to extend a 73-67 lead into the final score of 84-74. Louisville also hit 10 of their final 12 free throws to ice the game. Louisville shot 20-26 from the line in the second half, while Villanova (the Big East's best free throw shooting team) only made 23 trips to the line for the game. With Maalik Wayns in foul trouble, the Wildcats struggled to shoot the ball in the second half. Siva led Louisville with 16 points but the Cards also had four other players score in double figures, including another double-double from Gorgui Dieng (12 points, 13 boards). Wayns led the Wildcats with 19 points in just 23 minutes. James Bell and Mouphtaou Yarou also reached double figures in scoring for Villanova.
DePaul 69, Rutgers 64: Rutgers had a four-game win streak against DePaul going into last night's game and had taken out ranked teams at home this season. At the half Rutgers had a 29-24 lead and led 50-39 with 10:21 remaining. It seemed to be business as usual for the Scarlet Knights. Then, Jamee Crockett caught fire for DePaul. He scored 17 of his career-high 20 points in the second half and nailed all five of his three-point attempts in the half. The Blue Demons used a 7-0 run with the score tied at 62 to secure their second Big East win this season. Crockett led DePaul with 20 points, but Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young both scored in double figures as well. Rutgers was led by 22 points from Myles Mack and 14 points by Jerome Seagears.
Pitt 86, Providence 74: Providence was the slump buster for Pitt last night. The Panthers had come into the game 0-7 in league play and on an eight-game losing streak. The Panthers lit it up from behind the arc, hitting 11-20. Providence was just 3-17 from three-point range. Providence outscored Pitt in the paint 40-36 but lost trailed in points off turnovers, second chance points and bench points. Pitt led 46-31 at half. The run that put the game out of reach in the first half was fueled by 14 straight Pitt points by Ashton Gibbs (including 4 consecutive three-pointers). The game was never close in the second half. Gibbs led the Panthers with 22 points. Tray Woodall chipped in 17 points (4-4 from behind the arc) and Nasir Robinson scored 14 points for Pitt. Providence's Vincent Council led all scorers with 26 points. Bryce Cotton chipped in 20 points for the Friars.
St. John's 78, West Virginia 62: St. John's used an all freshman starting lineup against the Mountaineers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. It clearly worked out well. West Virginia shot a dreadful 25% in the first half and found themselves down 36-20 at halftime. The young Johnnies dominated the points in paint, 50-32, and notched 22 fast break points to just 5 by the Mountaineers. The Big East's leading scorer and rebounder, Kevin Jones, put up 26 points and 14 rebounds for West Virginia, but it wasn't nearly enough. Darryl Bryant was the only other Mountaineer to reach double figures in scoring. St. John's was led by Maurice Harkless' 23 points and 13 boards. Amir Garrett scored in double figures for the first time for the Red Storm with 11 points.
Notre Dame 55, Seton Hall 42: This was not a game for people who like a lot of points. Notre Dame held Seton Hall to its lowest point total since 2005 in the win. The halftime score was 19-18. Seton Hall shot just 20.7%. The Irish were only hitting at a 35% clip. Notre Dame outshot the Pirates 32-19 at the free throw line and outscored them by 14 from the charity stripe. Seton Hall hit just 15 field goals on the night and was only 2-14 from behind the arc. The Irish were led by Jack Cooley's 13 points and 11 rebounds. Notre Dame's Jerian Grant led all scorers with 15 points and Eric Atkins chipped in 14 points for the Irish. Jordan Theodore was the only player for Seton Hall to reach double figures with 11 points.
There are no Big East basketball games tonight. Big East teams resume play on Saturday with six games on the slate.