BIG EAST teams post a 7-2 record on Wednesday night as Connecticut and Syracuse remain unbeaten.
Wednesday night was a busy one for BIG EAST men’s basketball teams, with nine squads taking the court. BIG EAST teams posted a 7-2 record as Connecticut and Syracuse kept their perfect records intact while two coaches hit career milestones. The BIG EAST is 148-35 (.809) in nonconference games and 108-8 (.931) at home.
Head coach Oliver Purnell earned his 400th career win as DePaul (6-6) defeated Florida Atlantic 71-62. The Blue Demons have won five games in December, the most for the team since 2006-07 when they went 7-1. Guard Cleveland Melvin scored 23 points to lead DePaul, while Jimmy Drew and Tony Freeland had 13 and 12 points respectively. After leading by as many as 19 in the first half, the Blue Demons held a three-point edge with 3:18 left. Clutch foul shooting from Melvin and Jeremiah Kelly helped put the game away, extending DePaul’s lead to seven with under 30 seconds remaining.
No. 6/6 Pittsburgh (12-1) grabbed a 61-46 win over American, giving head coach Jamie Dixon his 200th career win. Dixon hit the milestone in just his 255th career game, making him the 12th fastest coach to reach 200 wins in NCAA history. Guard Brad Wanamaker led the Panthers with 19 points and helped lead a first-half surge that saw Pittsburgh hold American to one field goal over a 10-minute stretch. Pitt shot just 22-of-55 from the floor but made up for that with a 41-24 rebounding advantage over the Eagles.
No. 4/4 Connecticut (10-0) defeated Harvard 81-52 at the XL Center. It was the Huskies' final nonconference tuneup before taking on Pittsburgh in their BIG EAST opener on Monday. Guard Kemba Walker led the team with 20 points as 10 Huskies got on the scoresheet on the night. Walker, the nation’s second leading scorer, notched at-least 20 points for the ninth consecutive game. But it was the defense that was the story of the night - the Huskies forced the Crimson into missing their first 12 shots, heping Connecticut take a 13-2 lead over the first eight minutes.
No. 5/5 Syracuse (13-0) got a career-high 25 points from Kris Joseph as the Orange cruised to a 93-65 win over Drexel. Scoop Jardine added 21 points and Rick Jackson notched his ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Orange opened the second half by connecting on 18 of their first 20 shots to put the game out of reach. SU finished the second half shooting 71.9 percent and outrebounded the Dragons 38-27 in the game. Drexel was riding a six-game winning streak entering the game, but could not hang with the Orange, who outscored the Dragons 54-22 in the paint.
No. 8/8 Villanova (10-1) made a 90-mile drive to Monmouth and came away with an impressive 76-36 win against the Hawks. Villanova led 44-17 at halftime and limited the hosts to just 25.5-percent shooting from the field and 5.3-percent from 3-point range. Guard Corey Fisher led the way offensively with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
Louisville, ranked No. 25 in this week's USA Today/ESPN poll, took to the road for the first time this season and came away with a 114-82 win against Western Kentucky. Guard Peyton Siva had a career-high 29 points with eight assists in 29 minutes to lead five Louisville players in double figures as the Cardinals shot 64.6 percent from the field. Six Louisville players made at least two 3-point field goals as the Cardinals shot 16-of-30 from beyond the arc. Louisville, which scored 57 points in each half, improved to 10-1.
Notre Dame had an easy time with winless Maryland-Baltimore County as the Fighting Irish scored a 93-53 win at Purcell Pavilion. Forward Tim Abromaitis registered a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while guard Scott Martin added 15 points, giving him 10 straight games in double figures. The Irish finished with a 53-32 rebounding advantage, helping them finish the nonconference portion of their schedule at 11-1.
Seton Hall held a 40-26 lead at halftime against Dayton, but the Pirates managed just 25 second-half points, allowing the Flyers to take a 69-65, come-from-behind victory at the Prudential Center. Seton Hall shot just 25.8 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes and was outscored at the free throw line by a 22-10 margin for the game. Jeff Robinson had 15 points for the Pirates, who saw a three-game winning streak snapped.
USF fell to 0-4 on the road this season as the Bulls dropped a 69-62 decision to Cleveland State. The Vikings pulled away from a 44-44 tie with a 17-7 run in the second half to take the lead for good, despite 22 points and 11 rebounds from USF forward Jarrid Famous. Forward Augustus Gilchrist returned to the lineup after a brief absence and has 12 points off the bench.
Three teams are on the schedule for Thursday before the BIG EAST takes a two-day holiday break. No. 10/9 Georgetown highlights the action with a road game against No. 16/17 Memphis at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Cincinnati puts its perfect record on the line against Saint Francis (Pa.) at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.com, and Rutgers hosts Saint Peter’s at 7:30 p.m.