What a day it was for Big East basketball. After a relatively dormant Friday, despite Saint Mary's best efforts to knock off another team from the conference, five teams hit the hardwood and what came of it was nothing but excitement from start to finish.
The conference went 3-2 on December 20, with Georgetown, Providence and No. 7 Villanova netting wins. No. 23 Butler and Xavier unfortunately fell to their opponents but every team seemed to play a hand in making things exciting on this wild, sports-heavy Saturday.
Here are 10 things we learned from Saturday's action:
1. JayVaughn Pinkston is not to be messed with
Remember Pinkston's huge swat on Michigan Wolverines guard Zak Irvin last month in Brooklyn? Well, the Brooklyn native apparently wasn't fully satisfied as he delivered another big-time play in a clutch situation. While he DID have another volleyball spike Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, it was his offense that got the attention:
Pinkston would finish the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and an assist, making for a superb performance when his team needed it the most.
2. Villanova was shellacked more than they have at all this season, and still found a way to win
It's a mystery to many how the Wildcats were able to come away with this win on Saturday. Syracuse outshot, out hustled and outperformed them for nearly the entire game. Villanova didn't even get a lead until the overtime period. And yet when the buzzer sounded, the Wildcats had a five point win and remained unbeaten. It's going to be extremely difficult to knock this team out. Saturday proved exactly why.
3. Roosevelt Jones disappoints
I've been waiting to bring this up for a little while, but it's time to talk about Roosevelt Jones' disappointing performance this season. By no means am I trying to call Jones a bad player; I think we all know how talented this guy is and what he can bring to this squad. However, he has been a little underwhelming. In the last two games against Tennessee and Indiana (both losses), Jones has shot a combined 7-of-24, with almost all of his misses near the basket, where he's usually dominant. He turned the ball over a combined seven times in those two games, struggling at times with his role as lead ball-handler, depending on Butler's lineup at the time. I understand that he's still getting his feet under him after missing an entire season due to injury, but he's picked up some careless habits throughout the season and it's starting to show a little bit. He's a confident player and chances are that he'll figure it out, but it's been a tough stretch for the junior forward.
4. Butler's offensive inconsistencies reared their ugly heads against Indiana
Other than guard Kellen Dunham, who scored a game-high 23 points today, Butler continued to have trouble finding their footing on the offensive end. Dunham has been tremendous this year, but the team has struggled to find a clear-cut second option in their offense. The team struggled with their efficiency near the rim once again and shot just 39.1 percent from the floor, including hitting just three of 16 three-point attempts. Sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz was great today, adding 14 points and five rebounds, but proved to be the only steady option for the Bulldogs in the paint. It was a quiet day for freshman guard Kelan Martin (eight points, two rebounds), and he failed to connect on a single three during the game. The team certainly has their options on the offensive end, the focus just needs to be on finding some consistency from game to game.
5. Providence had the most impressive performance of the day
With Villanova squeaking by 'Cuse, Georgetown grinding out a win by the skin of their teeth against Charlotte, and Xavier and Butler falling, Providence's 20-point victory stood out as the biggest victory of the day for any member of the conference. LaDontae Henton got off the schneid with a 27-point outburst whilst shooting 10-for-19. Three other Friars were in double figures as Tyler Harris, Kris Dunn and Carson Desrosiers scored 12, 16 and 10 respectively. Another area of approval came in the offensive rebounding department as PC beat UMass 17-9 in that facet.
6. Providence's matchup with Miami will be nothing if not intriguing
The Hurricanes are coming off of a bludgeoning by Eastern Kentucky and could be quite pissed off when they meet up with the Friars on Monday. Providence would be wise to take this test for all it can be, as it will be their last game until their New Year's Eve clash with Creighton at The Dunk. PC played well in its last two neutral court affairs -- getting wins over Florida State and Notre Dame -- so we'll see how they fare in their third matchup on a neutral floor.
7. The Georgetown offense is quite capable of getting nearly everyone involved
Five -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 -- Georgetown Hoyas got into double figures in their matchup with the Charlotte 49ers. L.J. Peak led the way with 18 points, but D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Jabril Trawick, Joshua Smith and Aaron Bowen each needed 13, 11, 12 and 11 points of their own at the Verizon Center. They didn't do so with the greatest efficiencies but the offense seems markedly better than it was last year. And that's great news for the Hoyas.
8. Joshua Smith's high usage rate is translating to big things
Smith played just 21 minutes on Saturday and scored 12 points while grabbing just four rebounds. But it's clear that he's still making quite an impact while on the floor. He's been Georgetown's go-to guy this season from a possession standpoint, accounting for a team-high 29.2 percent of them this season. That's good for 84th in the country so far. He's also been a terrific offensive rebounder, posting an OR% of 14.8 percent -- 49th in the nation. These are hovering around the numbers he had two seasons ago while he was a UCLA Bruin so it's quite evident that he's reverting back to form. And it's a pleasure to watch.
9. Xavier's interior defense was gashed again against Auburn
The Musketeers omitted a 2-point field goal percentage of a staggering 62.2 percent on Saturday against the Auburn Tigers. This continues to be a problem for Xavier, who ranks 231st in 2 PT FG% allowed, as they are letting their opponents convert on an average of 49.6 percent of their attempts.
10. Matt Stainbrook's slide crushed the Muskies on Saturday
Despite scoring 11 points against Auburn, Stainbrook could've had an even better performance against Auburn that could have greatly tilted the contest. While he shot 7-for-8 from the free throw line, he went a meager 2-for-9 from the field and finished with an ORtg of 95. With it being a one point/possession game, even one more made basket could have made the difference. This one will be tough to swallow for the big man and his teammates for quite some time.