Marquette and Pittsburgh both grabbed conference wins on Thursday night in a doubleheader of BIG EAST action on ESPN. The results in the contests made the BIG EAST standings even more of a logjam as spots 3-through-11 are separated by just two games with just over a week remaining before the BIG EAST tournament. The top four spots will receive a double-bye to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship, while spots 5 through 8 will get a bye into the second round.
Marquette (17-11, 8-7) bolstered its NCAA tournament resume with a 74-67 overtime win at Connecticut. Guard Darius Johnson-Odom scored nine of his 17 points in the extra session to lift Marquette to an important win that brought the squad into a three-way tie with Connecticut and West Virginia at 8-7 in the BIG EAST standings. Johnson-Odom also scored the game-tying bucket with 5.3 seconds left in regulation. Jimmy Butler added 16 points for MU.
Connecticut (20-7, 8-7) trailed by 11 at the break, but rallied with a 26-7 run that put the Huskies up eight. Kemba Walker led the team with 27 points while Alex Oriakhi added 12 points and 15 rebounds. But Marquette battled back to force overtime where the Golden Eagles outscored the Huskies 15-8. Connecticut committed 17 turnovers in the contest. It as Marquette’s first road win against a ranked opponent this season.
Pittsburgh (25-3, 13-2) clinched a bye into the quarterfinals of The BIG EAST Championship with a 71-58 win over West Virginia. The Panthers completed a sweep of the Mountaineers, defeating West Virginia in the first meeting this season on Feb. 7. West Virginia (17-10, 8-7) held a 31-30 advantage at halftime, but Pitt went on a 17-5 run to begin the second half and take control of the game. Nasir Robinson led the Panthers with 15 points, while three others notched double figures in the contest. WVU got 22 points off the bench from Casey Mitchell who hit four-of-six from 3-point range and eight-of-eight from the foul line.
Saturday’s schedule starts at noon Eastern when Syracuse plays at Georgetown on CBS Sports. The Hoyas beat the Orange 64-56 at the Carrier Dome Feb. 9, but will be without guard Chris Wright who has a broken bone in his left hand.
USF plays at DePaul in the BIG EAST Network Game of the Week at 2 p.m. The two teams met at the Sun Dome Jan. 27 when the Bulls beat the Blue Demons 71-60. Also at 2 p.m., St. John’s plays at Villanova on ESPN.
Notre Dame will try to hold on to its second-place position when it hosts Seton Hall. The 11-4 Irish are a game ahead of St. John’s and Louisville, which are 10-5.