Very little has been determined heading into the final week of the BIG EAST regular season. Two things we do know are that Pittsburgh has clinched a bye into The BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals and Notre Dame has clinched a bye into the second round. Sunday’s results setup a five-way tie at 9-7 in the conference while Pittsburgh’s loss puts the Panthers just a game ahead of Notre Dame for the BIG EAST regular-season crown.
No. 16/16 Louisville (22-7, 11-5) inched closer to earning a bye into the quarterfinals of The BIG EAST Championship, beating No. 4/6 Pittsburgh 62-59 in overtime. Kyle Kuric made the big shot in overtime, draining a 3-pointer from the wing to put Louisville up by three points with less than four minutes remaining. Kuric finished with 12 points while Peyton Siva led the team with 14.
The teams traded clutch baskets at the end of regulation, as Preston Knowles hit a jumper with 35 seconds remaining to put the Cardinals ahead by two. But Brad Wanamaker responded for Pittsburgh, hitting a foul line jumper of his own to tie the game. Wanamaker helped send the game into overtime after blocking Kuric’s attempt at a game-winning layup with two seconds remaining. Gilbert Brown led the Panthers with 20 points.
Kuric appeared to seal the game with a breakaway dunk with less than one second remaining, but a technical foul was called after a premature celebration by a Louisville cheerleader. Ashton Gibbs made both free throws for Pittsburgh, but his halfcourt heave to tie the game at the buzzer was off the mark.
No. 14/15 Connecticut (21-7, 9-7) earned a key road win over Cincinnati, defeating the Bearcats 67-59 at Fifth Third Arena. The win pulled the Huskies into a five-way tie at 9-7, as teams battle for a first-round bye in The BIG EAST Championship. The Huskies led for all but 29 seconds in the game, and avoided their first three-game losing streak. Guard Kemba Walker scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half, while guard Jeremy Lamb led Connecticut with 17 points. Cincinnati (22-7, 9-7) was led by Yancy Gates, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
West Virginia (18-10, 9-7) also became a part of the five-way tie at 9-7 with a 65-54 win on the road against Rutgers. The Mountaineers held the Scarlet Knights to just one basket over the final 5:32. Forwards John Flowers and Kevin Jones each had double-doubles. Flowers finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Jones added 12 points and 11 boards. Rebounded did the trick for West Virginia, as the Mountaineers beat Rutgers 46-31 on the boards, which resulted in an 18-6 advantage in second-chance points. The biggest stretch in the game was an 11-0 run midway through the second half that took WVU from down three to up eight with 6:46 to play. Rutgers (13-15, 4-12) was led by Mike Coburn, who had 20 points in the loss.
Marquette (18-11, 9-7) completed a 2-0 week with an 86-62 win over Providence. Guard Darius Johnson-Odom had 17 points to lead five players in double figures for the Golden Eagles. Forward Jae Crowder contributed a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. One game after scoring a BIG EAST record 52 points in a loss to Notre Dame, Marshon Brooks was held to 17 points at Marquette. Brooks still led the Friars in scoring while adding five assists and four rebounds.
Marquette led 40-27 at halftime, and then made 10-of-13 to start the second half. The Golden Eagles shot 64 percent in the second half and 52.5 percent for the game. Providence (14-15, 3-13) shot just 31.5 percent for the game and 10-of-17 from the free throw line.
ESPN’s finale of Big Monday features Villanova visiting Notre Dame at 7 p.m. Eastern. The Irish are undefeated at home this season, while the Wildcats are trying to avoid a three-game losing streak and separate from the pack of 9-7 teams.