There were a total of seven games involving Big East basketball teams on Saturday. The West Virginia Mountaineers, No. 10/12 Georgetown Hoyas and Villanova Wildcats won the early games. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish upset the previously unbeaten No. 1 Syracuse Orange in the main attraction of the later games. The Tennessee Volunteers from the SEC knocked off the No. 11 Connecticut Huskies. The No. 21 Louisville Cardinals and No. 22 Marquette Golden Eagles survived the weekend with wins over the Pittsburgh Panthers and Providence Friars, respectively.
Notre Dame 67, No. 1 Syracuse 58: Notre Dame handed Syracuse their first loss of the season on Saturday. The Orange were without Fabricio Melo and Mookie Jones (Melo for academic reasons, Jones left the team). Before the season, Syracuse fans couldn't have predicted that losing Melo for the game would matter. Notre Dame outrebounded the Orange, 38-25, and had a 27-19 free throw advantage. Syracuse only managed to block 2 shots (Melo averages 3 per game by himself). Notre Dame held Syracuse to just 8-28 shooting from the floor in the first half while the Irish hit 12-22 (6-10 from behind the arc). The Irish led by 12 at the half. While Notre Dame's shooting cooled off in the second half, there was just too much ground to make up for Syracuse to avoid the upset. Jack Cooley had 17 points and 10 boards for the Irish. Scott Martin and Jerian Grant also reached double figures in scoring for Notre Dame. James Southerland led Syracuse with 15 points. Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters also scored in double figures for the Orange.
Tennessee 60, No. 11 UConn 57: After six lead changes, the Huskies had a 27-25 lead at halftime but couldn't hang on to the lead on the road against Tennessee. The Volunteers opened the second half on a 9-0 run and never trailed again. Tennessee was able to pull off the upset win despite only going 10-21 from the free throw line (10-19 during the second half). The Vols did hit 5 out of 8 from the charity stripe in the final 34 seconds of the game. Jarnell Stokes had a double-double for Tennessee with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Cameron Tatum chipped in 15 points for the Vols. Jeremy Lamb had a game-high 23 points for UConn. Shabazz Napier was the only other UConn player in double figures with 18 points.
No. 21 Louisville 73, Pitt 62: Pitt was handed their eighth loss in a row by the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday. The Cards have been in a slump of their own lately but have won their last two of their last three games. The first half was played pretty close and Louisville emerged at halftime with a 31-28 lead. Around the halfway mark of the second half, Louisville used an 11-2 run to pull away from the Panthers. Turnovers were a problem for both teams (17 for Louisville, 18 for Pitt), but Louisville did the most with the opportunities by outscoring the Panthers 17-10 in points off turnovers. Kyle Kuric led the way for the Cards with a season-high 21 points (5-9 from behind the arc). Gorgui Dieng had a double-double for Louisville with 13 points and 14 rebounds. He also had 5 blocks. Chane Behanan chipped in 19 points for Louisville. Tray Woodall returned for Pitt after missing most of the season with injuries, but was held scoreless in 21 minutes. Ashton Gibbs and Lamar Patterson shared the Pitt scoring lead with 14 points.
No. 22 Marquette 79, Providence 72: Marquette played about as well as they could in the first half against Providence but the Friars didn't go away. In fact, Providence held a 40-39 halftime lead by shooting 5-8 from behind the arc and making 13-17 shots from the free throw line. The Golden Eagles were on fire from behind the arc as well (9-11 for the game) but raised their game from inside the arc in the second half. Marquette hit 11 of their first 14 shots in the second half. A 14-3 run with all the points scored by Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner led the Golden Eagles to the win, their fourth in a row in the Big East. Wilson finished with a career-high 16 points. Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom shared the Marquette scoring lead with 18 points. Bryce Cotton led Providence with 26 points. Vincent Council and LaDontae Henton also reached double figures in scoring for the Friars.
There is only one Big East game on Sunday: South Florida at DePaul (2 p.m., TV: ESPN3)