Big Day in the Big East | Zagsblog
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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.
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Saturday / August 15.
  • Big Day in the Big East

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    It was a Big Day in the Big East, with several surprises…

    **No. 3 Pitt went into No. 8 Georgetown and handed it to the Hoyas behind 20 points and 17 boards from DeJuan Blair, who looked like a man among boys while outplaying freshman Greg Monroe.

    “I played with something on my back saying, ‘They’re picking this young cat against me, and I’m not going to take it,'” Blair said. “I was always an underdog throughout my whole life. I think I showed a lot of people.”

    Pitt had played a relatively soft schedule prior to this game, but they certainly looked poised and in control, moving the basketball very well on offense and simply dominating on the boards.

    Pitt outrebounded G-town 46-21 and outscored them in the paint 48-22.

    **St. Johns scored the biggest win of head coach Norm Roberts tenure with a 71-victory over No. 7 Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden.

    DJ Kennedy scored 20 points for the Johnnies, who are playing without Anthony Mason Jr. (foot) and Malik Boothe (thumb).

    Justin Burrell, playing with a facemask because of several facial fractures had 18 points, and Paris Horne scored 14 while playing great defense on Luke Harangody, who still had 28 and 14.

    Roberts was asked if this was the best win of his tenure that has seen the Red Storm go 58-71.

    Asked if this was his biggest win, Roberts told reporters: “Probably because of us being depleted a little bit and having the young guys step up. In this league you’ve got to be ready to play No. 2, No. 3, No. 16. There are so many good teams. We want our guys to stay focused and not give up. You can’t put your head down. You have to fight through adversity.

    “I told them there was no miracle stuff that happened out there. We committed 18 turnovers. There was no us making 12 3s. It was just us playing hard and not giving up.”

    Huge win for the Johnnies, who will sandwich road games against Pitt and Villanova against a home tilt with UConn.

    **Seton Hall dropped to 0-2 in Big East play and suffered its second straight blowout loss, falling 92-66 to West Virginia at the Prudential Center.

    Jeremy Hazell scored 29 points — hearly half of the Pirates output — on 9-of-14 shooting. Eugene Harvey added 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

    After missing games with a knee injury, senior forward John Garcia came back and played 16 minutes before fouling out, tallying just 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

    Former Bloomfield Tech star DaSean Butler had 18 points and 9 rebounds and Alex Ruoff added points for the Mountaineers (11-2, 1-0), playing their Big East opener. West Virginia shot 8 of 18 from beyond the arc.

    Ironically, Butler (pictured)  told me last week that he considered going to Seton Hall, but after Louis Orr left, he wasnt sure what the future held.

    “I was really thinking about staying home for either Rutgers or Seton Hall,” Butler said. “But Rutgers, I ended up not getting a scholarship [after the coaching change]. And with Seton Hall, some real close friends told me that Coach Orr might not be coming back. And I wanted to play for Coach Orr, but I didn’t know who was going to be there.

    “I had no clue that they were going to get ‘Gonzo’ [Bobby Gonzalez] there. I knew him for a while from when I was younger, and he’s a great coach. If I knew he was going to be there, I probably would have thought it out a little more.”

    Seton Hall has dropped four of five since an 8-1 start. Next up is a home date with Villanova on Tuesday.

    **Rutgers completed its trifecta against the No. 1, 2 and 3 teams in the nation with an 80-49 blowout loss at No. 2 UConn on Saturday.

    The Scarlet Knights fought No. 1 North Carolina bravely before falling 97-75 and led No. 3 Pitt at the 9:51 mark before losing 78-72.

    But playing a UConn team that was coming off a tough home loss to Georgetown proved too much for Fred Hill and company.

    Hasheem Thabeet (15 points),  Jerome Dyson (14) Jeff Adrien (13), Stanley Robinson (11) and Gavin Edwards (10) all scored in double-figures in the rout.

    Greg Echenique led RU with 17 points on 4-of-6 from the field and 9-of-9 from the stripe.

    Mike Rosario, praised by Carolina coach Roy Williams last week, struggled to score 10 points on 2-of-13 shooting. The Knights were outrebounded 37-25.

    It doesnt get easier for the Knights, who host Marquette and Syracuse before visiting Cincinnati and returning home to face Louisville.

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    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.