Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Big Day for the Big East: Eight Teams Win; Louisville, Seton Hall Upset
It was a Big Day for the Big East, with UConn and Syracuse both winning nationally televised games, St. John’s rolling into the finals of the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden and Rutgers getting another strong performance from its freshmen studs.
**I was at MSG, where the Johnnies routed Marist 65-44 to advance to Sunday’s title game against Virginia Tech in the Holiday Festival. St. John’s, playing without injured stars Anthony Mason Jr. and Justin Burrell, is now 9-1, its best start since 1990-91. Read my game story here on SNY.tv.
**In Seattle, A.J. Price had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lift No. 2 UConn over No. 8 Gonzaga, 88-84, in OT. Jerome Dyson scored six of his 21 in the extra period. Price drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to send it to OT. Read that story here.
**Forty-eight hours after beating Mississippi in Cincinnati, No. 9 Louisville was upset by Minnesota, 70-64, in Glendale, Ariz.
Terrence Williams scored 17 points and Earl Clark had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Louisville.
Tubby Smith got the win over Rick Pitino, who replaced him at Kentucky.
**In Syracuse, No. 11 Syracuse played its first game without suspended guard Eric Devendorf and beat No. 23 Memphis, 72-65, behind 24 points and 6 assists from Jonny Flynn. Flynn had missed practice Friday with an injured hip suffered in the Canisius game. Paul Harris added 15 points and 8 rebounds and Rick Jackson had 14 and 7.
Devendorf could petition to be readmitted prior to the start of the spring semester on Jan. 12 if he finishes the community service. Devendorf could play on Dec. 30 against Seton Hall if he meets the terms of Friday’s decision.
Doneal Mack and Pierre Niles had 12 apiece for Memphis, which shot 7-for-33 from beyond the arc. This team desperately needs a point guard. Wesley Witherspoon, who started in that spot, had 0 assists.
**No. 13 Georgetown beat Mount St. Mary, 69-58, with Chris Wright posting 19 points and 7 rebounds.
**No. 14 Notre Dame hammered Delaware State, 88-50, behind 20 points and 8 boards from Luke Harangody.**In Piscataway, N.J., Mike Rosario , sporting a new mohawk, scored 18 points, and fellow freshman Gregory Echenique posted his fourth double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, to lead Rutgers (8-3) to a 67-37 victory over Bryant (1-8) Saturday afternoon at the RAC.
The Scarlet Knights led from start to finish and were stifling on defense, limiting the Bulldogs to just 11 field goals and 22.4 percent (11-49) shooting.
“I liked our defensive energy and our defensive execution,” said head coach Fred Hill. “We have played pretty consistent defense all year long. We talked about getting leads and putting people away. Today was the first that we have been able to do that all year. In the second half we held them to 17 points and 18.5% shooting. That means that we are playing with energy and we’re executing our game plan defensively.”
**In Cincinnati, Cincinnati outscored Eastern Kentucky 12-6 in the extra period to win it, 85-77, after trailing by 14 points.
Mike Rose hit two foul shots with 4.6 seconds in regulation left to give Eastern Kentucky a 73-71 lead. After a timeout, Deonta Vaughn raced downcourt and put up an alley-oop pass to Yancy Gates, who flushed with two hands to tie the game and send it into OT.
Mike Williams finished with 13 points and a career-high 16 boards for Cincy, now 9-2.
“The guys stepped up,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said on SNY. “We never quit. It’s a great win for us. Some night you’re supposed to lose…Our kids hung in there. You’re not going to blow everybody out. This is a great win for a young team.”
Cincinnati beat Mississippi State a few days ago and Cronin took a shot at the Cincinnati Enquirer for calling Eastern Kentucky, which had won six of its last seven games, a “cupcake.”
“Eastern Kentucky reads that stuff,” Cronin said. “They’re a good team. They’re 7-3, they’ve won six of their last seven, they have a great young coach and they can shoot the basketball… so it was a great win.”
Cincy has a fascinating slate coming up. After playing Arkansas Pine Bluff Dec. 22, the Bearcats are at No. 23 Memphis Dec. 29; at No. 24 Marquette Jan. 4; home to Providence Jan. 7; and home to No. 2 UConn Jan. 10.
**West Virginia downed Miami of Ohio, 82-46, behind 28 points and 5 rebounds from Da’Sean Butler, a former New Jersey prep star.
**Seton Hall, playing without senior big man John Garcia, out with a knee injury, lost at home to IUPUI, 67-65, on a last-second layup by Leroy Nobles.
It was just the second loss of the season for the Pirates (8-2). It remains unclear how long Garcia will be out.
Read the writeup from SHU here.
IUPUI is 6-4.
**Boston College beat Providence, 81-76, behind 20 points and 6 assists from Tyrese Rice.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.