Three league matchups highlighted BIG EAST men’s basketball action on Tuesday, as the conference’s final two unbeaten teams took the court- Cincinnati and Syracuse. Rutgers played the lone nonconference matchup, taking on North Carolina at Madison Square Garden.
No. 5/5 Syracuse improved to 14-0 (1-0 BIG EAST) with a win at home over Providence (11-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) 81-74 in both teams’ conference opener. The Friars closed to within four on multiple occasions in the second half, including trailing 71-67 with under two-minutes to play. PC forward Marshon Brooks had a good look from 3-point range, but came up short. Syracuse knocked-down free-throws down the stretch to close out the win. Senior center Rick Jackson hit 3-of-4 from the charity stripe for the Orange in the final two minutes. Jackson had nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds, while Kris Joseph went for a career-high 27 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Guard Scoop Jardine had 21 for SU, and helped spark an 11-2 run late in the second half that put the Orange up by as many as 16. The Orange shot 9-of-22 from behind the arc for the game and shot 48.1 percent from the floor.
Brooks scored 27 points to lead the Friars, marking the eighth-straight game the senior has scored more then 25 points. Guard Gerard Coleman added 12 points while Vincent Council had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Cincinnati (13-0, 1-0 BIG EAST) also remained unbeaten with a 76-60 win over DePaul (6-7, 0-1 BIG EAST). The Bearcats got a season-high 20 points off the bench from Larry Davis to lift Cincinnati to its best start since 2003-04 when the squad also started 13-0. Dion Dixon added 16 points and Yancy Gates had 15. UC took control of the game with a 34-6 run. DePaul got a career-high 24 points from reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Cleveland Melvin. It was the 24th-straight road loss for the Blue Demons.
Seton Hall (7-6, 1-0 BIG EAST) opened up its BIG EAST season with a 64-55 home win over USF (6-8, 0-1 BIG EAST). Forward Herb Pope hit all four of his free throws over the final four minutes to help seal the win for the Pirates, who bounced-back from back-to-back home losses. Pope finished with his 15th career double-double, notching 12 points and 13 rebounds. It was the first win in a BIG EAST opener for SHU since 2006-07. Jeff Robinson led all scorers with 15 points.
Hugh Robertson scored a team-high 14 points for the Bulls while Augustus Gilchrist added 12. USF pulled within four points at 52-48 with under five minutes remaining, but the Hall held on by making 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch.
Rutgers (9-3) dropped a 78-55 decision to North Carolina at Madison Square Garden in the lone nonconference matchup in the BIG EAST on Tuesday. Jonathan Mitchell scored a game-high 20 points for the Scarlet Knights, but was the only player for Rutgers to record double figures. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Rutgers. The Tar Heels used a deep bench to get past the Scarlet Knights, as the UNC reserves outscored Rutgers 38-13.
Three games are on the BIG EAST schedule on Wednesday night, including a pair of league contests. No. 9/9 Georgetown travels to No. 15/15 Notre Dame for a 7 p.m. ET start on ESPN2. St. John’s and West Virginia tangle in Morgantown at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com. Marquette rounds out the schedule in a game with No. 24/RV Vanderbilt on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET.