After a night off from BIG EAST action on Tuesday, 10 teams took the floor on Wednesday. Four of the five conference contests were decided by eight points or less, including three coming down to the final minute of play.
No. 17/17 Syracuse (19-4, 6-4) snapped a four-game skid with a 66-58 road win over No. 6/7 Connecticut. The win avoided the first five-game losing streak in coach Jim Boeheim’s 35 seasons. Forward Rick Jackson had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while Brandon Triche led the Orange with 16 points. Jackson’s bucket just before the halftime buzzer gave SU at one-point advantage at the break, the squad’s first lead since holding a 2-0 edge on Jan. 22 in the first minute of play against Villanova. The game featured the most wins ever in Division I between two coaches. Boeheim came in with 847, seven more than fellow Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun. Forward Kris Joseph put the game away in the final minutes, scoring five-straight points to put the Orange up seven with 1:21 to go. For the Huskies (17-4, 5-4), freshman Jeremy Lamb was the only player in double figures with 22 points, his third-straight 20-plus point outing.
No. 12/12 Villanova (18-4, 6-3) snapped its two-game slide with a 75-70 win over Marquette in front of a packed house at The Pavilion. It was the big guys inside that shined for the Wildcats, as center Mouphtaou Yarou scored a team-high 18 points while forward Antonio Pena added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Five Villanova players were in double figures, as Corey Fisher had 17 points, Corey Stokes had 14 and Maalik Wayns dropped 10. Marquette (14-9, 5-5) trailed by as many as 14 in the second half, but closed to within three late in the game after a pair of Jae Crowder free throws. Crowder would foul out with nine points and four rebounds. The lead would continue to hold between three and five points the rest of the way, as Villanova hit clutch free throws down the stretch and finished 29-of-33 from the foul line. The Golden Eagles were led by Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom who each had 15 points.
Forward Justin Brownlee made a layup with four seconds left to give St. John’s (13-8, 5-5) a 58-56 win over Rutgers. The Red Storm led by 10 with 6:52 left, but the Scarlet Knights chipped away until Robert Lumpkins hit three consecutive 3-pointers to tie it at 56 with 18 seconds left. Dane Miller then missed a 3 at the buzzer that would have won the game for Rutgers (12-10, 3-7). Dwight Hardy led the Red Storm with 15 points while Jonathan Mitchell had 21 points, including hitting on 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
Providence (14-9, 3-7) got 24 points from Marshon Brooks, including 16 in the second half to lead the Friars past USF 68-63. The Friars looked to be pulling away after a 14-2 second-half run put PC up 56-47, but USF responded with an 11-2 run of its own to tie it at 58. Brooks scored five-straight points with under three minutes to go and PC hit clutch free throws down the stretch to close out the game. Guard Vincent Council had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Bulls (8-15, 2-8) were led by Jawanza Poland who had 20 points in the contest while Toarlyn Fitzpatrick tied his career high with 13.
West Virginia (15-6, 6-3) held Seton Hall to a season-low 44 points as the Mountaineers grabbed a 56-44 win over the Pirates. WVU built a 24-point lead, but did not hit a field goal over the final eight minutes and settled for a 12-point win. Forward Kevin Jones had 13 points and 12 rebounds. He passed the 1,000-point plateau for his career. The Pirates were led by Jeff Robinson who had nine points. The Hall was outrebounded 48-36 in the contest and shot just 29.5 percent from the floor. It was the seventh straight time the Mountaineers have defeated the Pirates.
Notre Dame at DePaul is the only game on Thursday’s schedule at 9 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. The Fighting Irish have won the last five meetings in the series, though the last four games have been decided by 10 points or less.