BIG EAST men’s basketball posted a perfect record, going 9-0 in Saturday’s action. Both No. 9/10 Syracuse and St. John’s won tournament titles on the day, while Pittsburgh became the first DI team to reach the 7-0 mark.
No. 9/10 Syracuse (6-0) had five players finish in double-figures as the Orange topped Georgia Tech 80-76 in the finals of the Legends Classic. Syracuse shot 55.6% from the field in the contest, including firing 11-of-18 in the second half. The Orange led by as many as 10 in the second half after a pair of Kris Joseph free throws. Joseph had 19 points to lead SU, while Scoop Jardine added 15 points and eight assists. Rick Jackson notched his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
St. John’s (4-1) won the title at the Great Alaska Shootout with a 67-58 victory over Arizona State. The Red Storm battled back from a double-digit first-half deficit, trailing by as many as 12 in the first frame and facing a 30-20 hole at the break. St. John’s shot just 26%, but a decision by first-year head coach Steve Lavin to go with a small five guard lineup in the second half helped St. John’s make a comeback. The Red Storm forced 11 turnovers in the second half, using a full-court 1-2-2 zone. A steal and score by Malik Stith with six minutes remaining gave St. John’s its first lead at 53-51. The team closed the game on a 21-7 run to notch the win. Justin Brownlee led STJ with 20 points, while Dwight Hardy contributed 14.
No. 5/5 Pittsburgh (7-0) became the first DI team to reach the 7-0 mark with an 82-58 win over Pennsylvania. The Panthers closed the first half on a 15-0 run to take control of the game, using the bench extensively in the second half. Ashton Gibbs led the team with 12 points in 28 minutes, as no Panther played more than 29 minutes in the contest. Nasir Robinson played his first minutes of the season as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. Robinson had nine points and four rebounds in 14 minutes. The Pitt bench outscored the starters 46-36 in the game, as Dante Taylor and freshman J.J. Moore each posted 11 points.
Marquette (5-2) won its 38th consecutive game over Wisconsin-Milwaukee, holding off the Panthers 75-72. The 38-0 record is the second-longest streak in Division I, only topped by Syracuse’s 44-0 mark over Colgate. Darius Johnson-Odom clinched the win with a pair of free throws with 5.2 seconds left, as he finished the contest with a career-high 29 points. The Golden Eagles also go 13 points from Jimmy Butler and nine points and six rebounds from Jae Crowder.
USF (4-3) came from behind to defeat Texas Tech 64-61 at the South Padre Island Invitational. Ron Anderson Jr. hit a layup with 2:04 remaining in the contest to give the Bulls their first lead of the game at 60-59. Anderson Jr. led USF with 16 points, as five Bulls players finished in double figures. The Red Raiders missed four 3-pointers and had a turnover in the closing minutes, while USF drained four-of-six from the charity stripe to close the game. Shaun Noriega added 13 points, Jawanza Poland had 12, while Augustus Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous each had 10.
BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year Austin Freeman tied a Georgetown record with seven 3-pointers as the No. 16/16 Hoyas (6-0) defeated UNC Asheville 87-72. Freeman finished with 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting and went 7-of-9 from downtown. The seven threes equaled the mark held by Mark Tillmon and Darrel Ownens. The contest was tied at seven early in the first half, but Georgetown went on a 23-0 run, holding UNC Asheville without a point for 8 ½ minutes to take a 30-7 advantage. Hollis Thompson had his first career double-double for the Hoyas with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Chris Wright added nine assists.
Casey Mitchell scored 25 points to lead West Virginia (4-1) over Virginia Military Institute 82-66. The Mountaineers closed the game on an 18-6 run over the final seven minutes to notch the victory, playing in their first game since falling to Minnesota in the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Kevin Jones added 22 points in the win.
Cincinnati (5-0) pounded Dayton 68-34, giving head coach Mick Cronin his first 5-0 start in his tenure with the Bearcats. It was also the first time under Cronin that Cincinnati has defeated Dayton, and they did so in dominating fashion. Ten Bearcats scored in the game, and junior guard Dion Dixon had a career-high 20 points. Cincinnati held Dayton to just 20 percent shooting from the floor, the first time UC has held an opponent to 20 percent shooting since Jan. 30, 2008 against West Virginia. The 34 points allowed were also the fewest Cincinnati has allowed in the Cronin era. The Bearcats led by as many as 39 in the game.
Louisville (4-0) stayed perfect in its new arena, posting an 80-66 win over Marshall. Three Cardinals had 12 points including Peyton Siva, Rakeem Buckles and Mike Marra. Louisville trailed by one at the break, but a 21-4 run early in the second half helped the Cardinals take control. Stephan Van Treese had a pair of dunks during the run, as the Cardinals used pressure defense to bother the Thundering Heard. Marshall had some chances to climb back in the game, but poor free throw shooting hampered the visitors who converted on just 13-of-29 from the charity stripe. Van Treese provided a much needed spark off-the-bench for Louisville, finishing with eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
On Sunday, DePaul plays Stanford in its third game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. Notre Dame battles Wisconsin for the Old Spice Classic championship in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.