On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Big East played three basketball games. The No. 1 Syracuse Orange, No. 22 Marquette Golden Eagles and Rutgers Scarlet Knights were victorious while the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals, Pittsburgh Panthers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost.
No. 1 Syracuse 71, Pitt 63: The Panthers continue to play better than they have at points during their now seven-game losing streak but still can't get a win. For Syracuse, the win was their first at home over Pitt since 2003. Pitt trailed at half, 35-26, and were down 48-34 with 15:10 left to play. The Panthers chopped the lead down to 48-42 by the 10:50 mark. Syracuse wouldn't let them get any closer. Pitt leads the Big East in rebound margin and dominated the boards, 40-28. The Panthers shot 48% from the field in the second half but couldn't make their free throws while Syracuse went 14-16 from the charity stripe in the second frame. Dion Waiters led the Orange in scoring with 16 points. Scoop Jardine had a double-double for Syracuse with 12 points and 10 assists. Fabricio Melo also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go with 6 blocks. Lamar Patterson, Ashton Gibbs and Cameron Wright each had 10 points for the Panthers to share the scoring lead.
No. 22 Marquette 74, No. 21 Louisville 63: Louisville shot 5-13 from three-point range in the first half but only 2-10 in the second half. As their shooting percentage dwindled so did their chances of beating Marquette. Louisville started hot and built a 20-7 lead with 12:48 to go in the first half. The Golden Eagles outscored the Cardinals 27-10 during the rest of the half. A few periods of scoring droughts starting near the end of the first half and continuing into the second half doomed Louisville. Marquette shot 48.3% in the second half and made 8-10 free throws to keep their distance from the Cards. The Golden Eagles had eight more chances than Louisville and a 12-point advantage at the charity stripe. Darius Johnson-Odom, the second-leading scorer in the Big East, led Marquette with 19 points. Jae Crowder had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette. Davante Gardner chipped in 17 points for the Golden Eagles. Russ Smith and Chris Smith had 20 points and 19 points, respectively for Louisville. Chane Behanan had a double-double for Louisville with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Rutgers 65, Notre Dame 58: Rutgers improved to 3-3 in the Big East with the win, their best start since 2003-2004. How did Rutgers beat the Irish? They posted a season-low 10 turnovers while also reaching a Big East season-high 14 assists. The Scarlet Knights gained the lead at 19-18 with 11:48 left to play in the first half and never looked back. Notre Dame was able to stay withing striking distance in the first half by shooting 5-12 from behind the arc. They only hit 2-8 from behind the arc in the second half. Rutgers cooled off more than Notre Dame as far as shooting was concerned but did make 10-14 from the free throw line. The Scarlet Knights also outrebounded the Irish. The nine-point halftime cushion provided the buffer Rutgers would need to win their 9th game in 12 tries at the RAC against Notre Dame. The Scarlet Knights got the bulk of their points from Eli Carter, Jerome Seagears and Austin Johnson who all reached double figures. Eric Atkins led Notre Dame with 15 points. Scott Martin chipped in 11 points for the Irish.
There is only one Big East conference basketball game tonight: No. 12 Georgetown at DePaul (7 p.m., TV: ESPN2).