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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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Monday / December 18.
  • Break up the Seton Hall Pirates; Villanova Punishes Marquette

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    How about those Seton Hall Pirates?

    After dropping six straight games to open the Big East season, Bobby Gonzalez’s team has reeled off five straight wins with Tuesday’s 72-49 rout of winless DePaul in Chicago.

    “We know it’s not easy to beat the elite teams but we have to take care of business with teams that we are equal or close to,” Gonzalez said after Sunday’s win at Rutgers.

    Eugene Harvey had a team-high 19 points, six assists and just one turnover. Robert Mitchell scored 16 points, including three first-half 3-pointers when the game was still in doubt, and grabbed nine rebounds. Jeremy Hazell added 13 points and Jordan Theodore 11.

    The Seton Hall defense forced 13 turnovers and made eight steals. The 49 points were the fewest allowed since Feb. 28, 2004.

    The Pirates are now 5-6 in the Big East, tied with West Virginia for ninth place and ahead of Georgetown (4-7) and Notre Dame (3-7).

    Still, things will get tougher. No. 1 UConn comes to The Rock on Saturday and then the Pirates must visit No. 12 Marquette Feb. 17.

    At 0-12, DePaul is looking like it could go 0-18.

    VILLANOVA PUNISHES MARQUETTE

    By Dan Gelston (AP)

    VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Scottie Reynolds had a hard time forgetting the way Marquette handled Villanova only five weeks ago.

    “They just came in and barreled over us,” Reynolds said.

    Not this time. The Golden Eagles became another victim of Villanova’s 3-point happy offense.

    Reynolds scored 27 points, Corey Fisher had 21 and No. 13 Villanova continued its dominant Big East run with a 102-84 win over No. 10 Marquette on Tuesday night.

    “We’ve been taking big steps the last five weeks,” Reynolds said. “And this was just another step.”

    The Wildcats (20-4, 8-3) had a knack for winning low-scoring games the last few seasons. This season they’ve transformed into an up-tempo, high-scoring team and the rest of the Big East is having a hard time keeping up.

    The Wildcats knocked off their third Top 25 team in their six-game winning streak and won their 26th straight game at the Pavilion.

    They reached the 100-point mark in consecutive Big East games for the first time in team history.

    “Sometimes, you’ve just got to outscore people,” coach Jay Wright said. “We don’t like that, but that’s the only way we’re going to do it tonight.”

    Dante Cunningham had 15 points and Shane Clark had 16 to help the Wildcats reach the 20-win mark for the fifth straight season.

    Villanova scored 100 points for the third time this season and beat Providence two games ago with 94 points. The Wildcats scored only 72 points in a loss in their first game against Marquette.

    Marquette (20-4, 9-2) was unranked when it came away with a home victory against Villanova in the conference opener, a win that sparked the Golden Eagles to a 9-0 start in the Big East. Now, they’ve lost two straight on the road.

    Jerel McNeal scored 23 points and set Marquette’s career scoring record, breaking George Thompson’s 40-year-old mark. McNeal entered the season 22nd on the team’s career list, and his eighth straight game of 20-plus points gives him 1,776 points and a spot atop the list.

    “It says a lot about Jerel and what he’s been able to accomplish,” coach Buzz Williams said. “He plays with an edge. His toughness defines him.”

    Lazar Hayward had 22 points for Marquette. Wesley Matthews added 16.

    Reynolds carried the Wildcats in the second half, scoring 16 points and making three timely 3-pointers that turned back short Marquette runs. The packed crowd serenaded him with chants of “Scot-tie! Scot-tie!” after every big basket.

    The game between two nationally ranked Big East teams was a rare treat for Villanova’s fans. This was only the 10th game at the Pavilion between two Top 25 teams and the Golden Eagles and Wildcats came out and gave them all a show.

    Each team came out firing from 3-point range, with seemingly every shot a step or two beyond that arc. And the shots were dead on – Hayward hit three in the first half for the Golden Eagles and Fisher nailed three in the half for the Wildcats. Villanova ended the first half pop-a-shot contest with a 50-45 lead.

    Then Reynolds, Villanova’s streaky guard, got going from long range to help build a 14-point lead. His first 3 of the half gave Villanova a 10-point lead, he swished one to make it 76-64 and the last one gave them a 92-78 lead.

    “Our guards are playing like big-time Big East guards now,” Wright said.

    Marquette wasn’t too shabby, either, making 11 of 23 3s and shooting 51 percent from the floor.

    “That should be enough points to win at home or on the road,” Williams said.

    Not when the Wildcats miss only seven times in the second half.

    They shot a blistering 72 percent in the second half (18-for-25) and made 13 of 24 3-pointers. Villanova had only connected on 35 percent of its 3s coming into the game.

    Reynolds made five 3s, Fisher had four and Clark went 3-for-3.

    “You can’t win on the road, you can’t win at home, in the Big East, even as a kid when you come out to the park, when they shoot 72 percent,” Williams said.

    Clark, who also grabbed seven rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer in the final minute to push the Wildcats over the 100-point mark.

    “Every shot that went up, you thought it was going in,” Reynolds said.

    The Wildcats lost starting forward Dwayne Anderson to a sprained right knee early in the second half and he did not return. He scored 10 points.

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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.