Big East Basketball Wrap-Up: Teams At The Top Of The Conference Hold Serve

There were six games involving Big East basketball teams on Saturday as Notre Dame faced Villanova, Louisville played DePaul, Georgetown played Providence, Cincinnati traveled to Seton Hall, St. John's played a late season non-conference game against UCLA, and Marquette played at Connecticut. Here's how the six games played out.

Notre Dame 74 Villanova 70 (OT) In a game that both teams were forced to play shorthanded, Notre Dame rallied from as far down as 20 points to beat Villanova at Villanova in overtime. The win allowed Notre Dame to stay in the hunt for one of the top four seeds in the Big East tournament and earn one of the coveted double-byes in New York. Pat Connaughton led the Irish in scoring with 21 points, all coming from three point range as he finished the game 7 for 12 from deep. Jack Cooley recorded another double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. It was another crushing loss in what has been a long and disappointing season for Villanova. Playing without leading scorer Maalik Wayns and guard James Bell, the Wildcats had a 20 point lead at one point, only to have Notre Dame come storming back via the three point shot to force overtime and ultimately pull away for the win.

Louisville 90 DePaul 82 (OT) In much the same way that Notre Dame overcame a huge road deficit to win against a team in the lower half of the conference, Louisville rallied from a 17 point deficit with 5:00 to go in the first half to force overtime and win 90-82 at DePaul. DePaul had runs of 14-0 and 16-1 in the first half on absolutely torrid shooting from Brandon Young, who finished the game with 27 points on 10 of 13 shooting. After turning the ball over 11 times in the first half, the Cardinals settled down, only turned it over six times the rest of the game, and overcame the deficit on hot three point shooting from Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, and Russ Smith. The three combined to hit 10 three point shots in the game, and took 26 of Louisville's final 29 shots from the field. Louisville was somewhat shorthanded, being forced to play much of the game without starting forward Chane Behanan who was suffering from the flu. The Cardinals shifted to a smaller, four-guard lineup and shot their way out of the deficit for the win and a chance to stay in the hunt for one of the top four seeds in the Big East Tournament.

Georgetown 63 Providence 53 Georgetown got another balanced, efficient scoring night from the entire team and once again used its smothering defense to win its tenth Big East game and continue to improve its seeding possibilities for the postseason. Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark each had 13 points and Henry Sims added 10 as the Hoyas shot 45.7% from the floor in the win. The Hoyas' stifling defense held Providence to just 25.9% shooting and just 19% (4 of 21) from three point range. Georgetown has now won 4 of its last 5 Big East games, with the only loss coming in overtime to Syracuse. At 10-4 in Big East play, Georgetown is likely a lock to earn one of the top four seed in the conference tournament.

Cincinnati 62 Seton Hall 57 In a game that featured two teams fighting to stay on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Cincinnati got a much needed win over a Seton Hall team that has fallen on quite hard times in the second half of the season. Dion Dixon played 39 of 40 minutes for Cincinnati and led the team with 20 points. Cash Wright added 13 and Jaquon Palmer added 12 in the effort. It was another subpar shooting effort from Seton Hall that ultimately did the Pirates in. As has been the case in a number of close Big East games, Seton Hall struggled, especially from three-point range, and was never able to get within striking distance of Cincinnati in the second half. The Pirates shot just 4 of 20 from three-point range and just 34.8% overall. Cincinnati kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive with the win and will host Louisville on Thursday night for a chance to score another important Big East win. Seton Hall will need to win two of its final three games just to get back to 9-9 in Big East play.

St. John's 66 UCLA 63 St. John's played a rare, late-season out of conference game against UCLA, and won the game, giving it a bright spot in what has been a challenging season both on and off the court for the Red Storm. Despite getting just 10 points from star freshman Mo Harkless, St. John's was saved by the play of D'Aneglo Harrison, who scored 22 points and played all 40 minutes. St. John's was as shorthanded as it has been all year, playing just six players in the game and getting just two points off the bench from God'sGift Achiuwa. The win was a bright spot in a season that got a little darker for St. John's as it appears now that coach Steve Lavin will not coach the team for the rest of the season as he continues his battle with prostate cancer.

Marquette 79 Connecticut 64 Marquette quietly keeps putting together one of its best seasons in years, this time beating up on reeling Connecticut, 79-64. Jae Crowder overwhelmed Connecticut, scoring 29 points and hitting 4 of 7 three-point attempts in the win. Darius Johnson-Odom added 20 points of his own and also hit on 4 of 8 three-point attempts. The game was rarely close as Marquette took a 14 point lead into the locker room and it rarely let it get much closer than that, ultimately extending the lead to 15 to close the game. Marquette has all but locked up one of the double-byes in the Big East Tournament and is now focused on maximizing its possible NCAA Tournament seeding. Connecticut, meanwhile, continued its late season swoon. With coach Jim Calhoun out due to health issues, Connecticut has lost 7 of its last 9 games and just a year after winning a national championship, will have to hustle just to ensure it has a spot in this year's NCAA Tournament.

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