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Big East Report - 2/12/24

By Matt Hill

WEEKEND GAMES


Creighton 78, Xavier 71

When the Big East reconfigured and added these two teams to the conference, there were a lot of questions about whether they would be able to play at such a high level coming from mid-major conferences.

The question was emphatically answered as these two programs have been at the top of the Big East for a decade and on Saturday in Cincinnati they met again with the stakes high.

Creighton is comfortably in the NCAA Tournament but Xavier is definitely on the bubble, coming in at 13-10, 7-5 in the Big East. This was a must win.


Creighton however, did not let the Musketeers get their wish and took a big road win back to Omaha.

The turning point for the Blue Jays was when Xavier led 25-24 with 6:05 to go in the first half after a basket by Quincy Olivari. From that point on until the final few minutes, it was mostly all Creighton.

From the 6:05 mark of the first half until the 16 minute mark in the second half, the Blue Jays went on a 25-7 tear and led 49-32. Xavier then started making a run.


Xavier went on a 7-0 spurt to cut the Jays lead to 10 points. Up to this point, Ryan Kalkbreener was having a field day with Xavier. So, enter a kid from Serbia named Djokovic. Nope, it wasn't the famous tennis player Novak Djokovic, but instead it was Xavier freshman Lazar Djokovic. He helped at least contain Kalkbrenner and his defense gave the Musketeers new life. Creighton led 74-60 in the final four minutes and the game looked over, but Xavier went on a 9-0 run to cut the Blue Jay edge to five points. It looked like Creighton was going to pull a massive choke job.


Creighton survived in the final two minutes to win 78-71. Even though most of the game was impressive for Creighton, the ending has to be alarming for head coach Greg McDermott. 

For Xavier, this was one the Musketeers desperately needed as they try to navigate the bubble that is full of Big East teams. Kalkbrenner topped Creighton with 28 points and seven rebounds while it was also a big game for Baylor Scheierman who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a great all-around effort.

Xavier had a lot of scoring from three players, Claude Desmond with 22 points, Dayvion McKnight with 21 and Olivari with 18. No other Xavier player scored more than four points.


Butler 75, Providence 72.

This one had a very controversial ending as it looked like Corey Floyd Jr. was fouled in the final seconds of the game when he went up for a dunk but no foul was called and Butler held on to win.

Watching on TV, it was very tough to see and officials have a tough job, but apparently they ruled that there was no contact made on the dunk.

It was still a great comeback by Providence, who was down 34-25 at the half to make this a very interesting game. Floyd ended up with 20 points for Providence while Devin Carter had 18

DJ Davis was spectacular once again for Butler with 20 points and eight rebounds. Pierre Brooks had 12 points and seven rebounds.


Butler is the one of the hottest teams in the conference right now and has played its way into the NCAA Tournament at this point. 


UCONN 89, Georgetown 64

The Huskies put up 52 first half points and did not look back in a routine win over the Hoyas.

Alex Karaban led UCONN with 25 points while Stephon Castle had 17 for the Huskies.


Marquette 86, St. John's 75

It was the tale of two different halves in this one as St. John's held a nine-point cushion at halftime only to see the Golden Eagles dominate the second half in a Marquette win.

The Golden Eagles were trailing 47-38 at the break, but then outscored St. John's 48-28 in the second half.

While Marquette is in a good position to get a two seed in the NCAA Tournament at 18-5, 9-3 in the Big East, this was a damaging loss for the Red Storm, who now falls to 14-10 overall and 6-7 in the Big East. 

Tyler Kolek had another big night as he finished with 27 points and 13 assists. Stevie Mitchell had 14 for Marquette.

Daniss Jenkins led St. John's with 22 points.


Villanova 80, Seton Hall 54

in another hard to explain matchup Villanova, who came into this game 5-7 in the Big East and 12-11 overall and headed in the wrong direction, routed Seton Hall who was third in the Big East coming in.

Villanova led by 15 at halftime by a score of 39-24 and the Cats continued their dominance in the second half.

Al-Amir Dawes led the Pirates with 14 points. Eric Dixon topped Villanova with 18 and added five rebounds.


MIDWEEK GAMES


Providence 91, Creighton 87 (OT)

Josh Oduro finished with 32 points while Devin Carter had 28 in an upset overtime victory for Providence over Creighton.


This game continues to show the balance in the Big East. Creighton as of now is securely in the tournament, but Providence is on the bubble and this was a huge triumph over the Friars.

The Friars shot 58 percent from the field in the second half and 4-of-5 for 80 percent in overtime.

Baylor Scheierman led Creighton with 27.


Xavier 56, Villanova 53

Villanova's NCAA hopes at least for an at large bid look like they are getting slimmer and slimmer by the day. 

This loss dropped the Cats to 12-11 overall.

Olivari had 14 to top Xavier.


Seton Hall 76, Georgetown 70.

The Pirates escaped the Hoyas and avoided a bad loss to damage their resume.

Seton Hall led 38-33 at halftime as Georgetown stayed within striking distance throughout the second half. 

Dre Davis led all scorers with 25 for the Pirates. Brendan Hauser topped Villanova with 15.


UCONN 71, Butler 62

The Huskies are ranked No. 1 for a reason and that reason just might be Donovan Clingan

In addition to his size that causes mismatches that the opponent has to overcome, he is a force inside and on Tuesday night finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double to propel the Huskies to the win.

Cam Spencer led UCONN with 20 points, but it was Clingan who was a nightmare for Butler and the defense the Huskies played in this one was stifling. Holding Butler to nearly 20 points below its season average, the Huskies showed that even on a night that wasn't the best offensively they could win with their defense.

Credit Butler it did hang around single digits the entire second half, but the Huskies had an answer every time.

DJ Davis led Butler with 21 points and went 6-for-6 from the foul line in a herculean effort for the Bulldogs. Jahmyl Telfort finished with 17 on the evening for Butler.


St. John's 85, DePaul 57

Daniss Jenkins and Jordan Dingle both had 14 points and Chris Ledlum finished with 10 rebounds in a blowout win over struggling DePaul.

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