There were no surprises in the results of the six Big East basketball games on Saturday. The No. 1 Syracuse Orange, No. 15 Louisville Cardinals, No. 16 Connecticut Huskies, No. 24 Marquette Golden Eagles, Cincinnati Bearcats and West Virginia Mountaineers all won.
No. 1 Syracuse 78, Providence 55: Providence hung around for a good chunk of the first half but they missed guard Vincent Council and it showed. Syracuse used a 15-0 run to put the Friars away by the end of the first half. The Orange lead was 38-21 at the break. Syracuse went on another big run to start the second half to kill any hopes of a comeback. Kris Joseph led the Orange with 13 points. Scoop Jardine just missed a double-double for Syracuse with 10 points and 9 assists. Mookie Jones and Dion Waiters also scored in double figures for the Orange. Providence got the bulk of their points from Kadeem Batts, LaDontae Henton and Gerard Coleman. The 19 wins to start the season ties the Syracuse record set in 1999-2000.
No. 15 Louisville 76, DePaul 59: After a relatively close first half when Louisville let DePaul back in the game, the Cardinals put away the Blue Demons with a quick run to begin the second half. After starting the season 12-0, Louisville has only won 2 of their last 6 games. The turnovers by the Cards was still high, but they did outrebound DePaul and shot 50.9% from the field. The defense held DePaul to just 34.3% shooting. A source of concern for Louisville is the lack of three-point production (19.7% of their points last night), as Mengus pointed out. DePaul shocked a slumping Pitt team on Jan. 5 but have lost their last three games by blowout scores. Russ Smith led Louisville with 25 points despite going 0-7 from behind the arc. Gorgui Dieng had another double-double for the Cards with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Chris Smith chipped in 20 points for Louisville. Brandon Young was the only Blue Demon in double figures with 14 points.
No. 16 UConn 67, Notre Dame 53: UConn ended a 29-game home winning streak for the Irish on Saturday despite shooting just 2-12 from behind the arc. Ryan Boatright had to sit out again for the Huskies while the NCAA checks on his availability. After trailing by one after the first half, UConn woke up. The Huskies had the game put away with 6:27 to play when they went up 50-38. While Notre Dame only turned the ball over 8 times, the UConn defense held the Irish to 32.3% shooting from the floor. Shabazz Napier led UConn with 16 points. Andre Drummond had another double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds for UConn. Eric Atkins scored a game-high 20 for the Irish.
No. 24 Marquette 62, Pitt 57: The struggling Pitt Panthers are now 0-5 in the Big East and have lost six games in a row. Pitt led 29-25 after the first half and held the lead late into the second half. Marquette used a 13-0 run to overcome the deficit and take a 49-41 lead with 5:04 to play. The Panthers didn't go away and used three Ashton Gibbs free throws and then a three-pointer with 54 seconds left to cut the lead to three. Davante Gardner made both of his free throws for Marquette with 18 seconds left and Pitt couldn't make another shot. Gibbs scored a game-high 29 points for Pitt. Nasir Robinson was the only other Panther in double figures in scoring. Marquette was led by 18 points from Darius Johnson-Odom and 15 points from Jae Crowder.
Cincinnati 82, Villanova 78: Villanova remains winless on the road this season despite a 39 point, 13 rebound, 6 assist night from Maalik Wayns against Cincinnati. Dominic Cheek also chipped in 19 points for Villanova. The Wildcats led at halftime 45-40 but couldn't keep up their hot three-point shooting percentage in the second half. After going 10-16 in the first half, Villanova was just 2-14 in the second half from behind the arc. That difference allowed the Bearcats to overcome the Villanova lead. The Bearcats also went 6-8 from the free throw line in the final 28 seconds to seal the win. Cincy was led by 22 points by Dion Dixon and 16 points and 9 rebounds from Yancy Gates.
West Virginia 84, Rutgers 60: West Virginia led the whole way behind the 12th double-double of the season from Kevin Jones (24 points, 14 rebounds). Aided by Rutgers turnovers, the Mountaineers led 48-22 at the half. The game could have been won ever more decisively by West Virginia if they had shot better than 23-41 from the free throw line. Deniz Kilicli, Darryl Bryant and Jabarie Hinds scored in double figures for West Virginia while Myles Mack and Dane Miller reached double figures for Rutgers. The loss for Rutgers followed back to back Big East wins over No. 16 UConn and Pitt. West Virginia won the first matchup this season with Rutgers on Jan. 4, 85-64.
There was only one Big East game today: No. 11 Georgetown at St. John's. Georgetown won 69-49.