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The Big East Report: 12/29/08 - 1/5/09

Welcome to the new feature here at Orange::44.
The Big East Conference is the best basketball conference in the nation. This is unanimous. I know I grew up on it and have grown only to love it more over the years. I would rather watch St. John’s v. Seton Hall than UNC v. Duke. Alright, maybe that is a tad of an exaggeration but you get the idea. Therefore, I am premiering a new feature of this notebook. Every Tuesday I will take a look at the past week’s Big East Conference games, give a quick recap, talk about the teams and big players, and talk about the big picture in the Big East. The teams and their rank at the time of the game will be shown, along with their conference record after the match. TBER should appear here on a weekly basis and is a must for any Syracuse fan that just does not have too much time to keep up with Big East basketball as much as they want. This week we start with December 29th as it was the first real day of Big East play.

December 29
#8 Georgetown (1-0) v. #2 Connecticut (0-1) (at XL Arena in Hartford)
74-63 F
This was quite a first game for the Big East to showcase on a big stage. The Hoyas jumped out to an early lead on an 18-3 run and they never relinquished it. G’town’s DaJuan Summers lead all scorers with 18 points, while Hasheem Thabeet had seven rebounds, seven blocks, and only four points. It was clear in this game that UConn was not as intense or hungry as Georgetown and thus the Hoyas were rewarded with a big win on Big Monday. You have to defend your “home” court, and UConn did not even come close.

December 30
Seton Hall (0-1) v. #11 Syracuse (1-0)
76-100 F
My postgame reactions here.

December 31
#3 Pittsburgh (1-0) v. Rutgers (0-1)
78-72 F
This was Rutgers’ shot to make a statement in the Big East. They were up at the half 43-39. Both teams had pretty even night stat wise as well. But it was the more physical and lucky Pittsburgh that pulled it out and remains unbeaten. Sam Young of Pitt had 18 points, while Rutgers’ Mike Rosario had 22. Solid nights all around.

St. John’s (0-1) v. Providence (1-0)
54-75 F
St. John’s jumped out to an early 11-0 lead, but that was relinquished quickly as Providence gained the lead with 6:49 remaining in the first half and never gave it back. Three Red Storm starters were in double digits and Sean Evans earned a double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds. However, Providence had key contributions off the bench as Randall Hanke led all scorers with 17 points. Providence had the walk ons in on the home floor at the Dunk as Providence cruises to win one.

#10 Notre Dame (1-0) v. DePaul (0-1)
92-82 F
DePaul kept this respectable by only losing by ten. Good for them. Luke Harangody of ND tore it up with 26 points and 16 rebounds. F’n Kyle McAlarney had 13 points and six rebounds. Mac Koshwal for DePaul also had a big night inside with 26 points and 11 rebounds as well but it was just too much for the offense of Notre Dame as they open the season on the road with a win.

January 1
#13 Villanova (0-1) v. #25 Marquette (1-0)
72-79 F
Villanova is a talented team and hung with Marquette until a little over six minutes remaining in the game, but Jerel McNeal’s clutch shooting and free throws sealed the game for Marquette. He finished with 24 points and six rebounds. ‘Nova’s best shooter was Corey Fisher off the bench with 21 points. Scottie Reynolds had 15 points in the losing effort. Marquette in the end just shot the ball better and outlasted the Wildcats.

January 2
#11 Syracuse (2-0) v. South Florida (0-1)
59-54 F
My postgame reactions here.

January 3
#3 Pittsburgh (2-0) v. #8 Georgetown (1-1)
70-54 F
The best match up of the day, especially after Georgetown dismantled UConn, was a let down. Pittsburgh physically dominated in the game earning rebounds and having killer post play. This game snaps a 29 game home winning streak at “The Phone Booth” for Georgetown. DaJuan Summers had 22 points for Georgetown, but it was not enough as DeJuan Blair had 20 points for Pitt. The Panthers win in convincing fashion.

#10 Notre Dame (1-1) v. St. John’s (1-1) (at Carnesecca Arena in Jamaica, NY)
65-71 F
The first big upset of the year in the Big East. It was a cold night in New York for the Fighting Irish. Stingy defense from St. John’s caused ND to only make 4-17 from long range. Luke Harangody had another ridiculous day with 28 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, and four assists. But it was not enough as Notre Dame loses on the road.

West Virginia (1-0) v. Seton Hall (0-2)
92-66 F
Another dud for the boys from Jersey. However the theme in the league is players having huge nights on the losing team. The Hall’s Jeremy Hazell earned 29 points, but it was not enough as The Hall only made 23 of 52 field goals, while WVU made 32 of 60. Having more possessions and capitalizing on them is what it was all about in this game.

Rutgers (0-2) v. #2 Connecticut (1-1) (at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT)
49-80 F
Not even close. The far superior Connecticut team dismantled Rutgers after playing poorly against G’town. The difference, five players for UConn had double figures in scoring, while Rutgers only had two. Rutgers shot poorly (28.8%), while UConn did not (51.9%). Hasheem Thabeet had 15 points and eight rebounds. UConn is back on the right track. Hello wake up call, it’s me Connecticut. UConn improves to 16-1 all time versus Rutgers.

DePaul (0-2) v. Providence (2-0)
54-62 F
DePaul kept it close, as they only trailed by a point with 10:20 remaining in the game. But Providence used their possessions fairly well in the last ten minutes, and DePaul failed to capitalize. Weyinmi Efejuku (who?) of Providence had 18 points, including shooting four of seven from long range. DePaul just could not convert down the stretch.

January 4
Cincinnati (0-1) v. #25 Marquette (2-0)
50-84 F
Jerel McNeal had a career shooting night from beyond the arc (7-7) to give the Bearcats no shot in this game. He finished with 26 points and six rebounds. Cincy’s poor shooting did not help either as they finish 3-19 (15.8%) from three point range and 32.7% overall from the floor. Marquette won big and Cincinnati looked bad.

January 5
#10 Georgetown (1-2) v. #13 Notre Dame (2-1)
67-73 F
Not a bad game for a Big Monday. Notre Dame extended the nation’s longest home court winning streak to 44 games. Luke Harangody had another monster game, earning 31 points on 11-19 field goals and 9-9 free throws. See Syracuse, a big man that can make free buckets. He also had 11 rebounds. Meanwhile Georgetown had trouble shooting the long ball as they only made four of 18, and thus Notre Dame was able to stay ahead with key inside play and better shooting from downtown. A fun game to watch.
Weekly Awards
Team of the week: Pittsburgh

Player of the week: Luke Harangody

Best Game of the Week: January 5th - Georgetown v. Notre Dame

Worst Game of the week: January 3rd - Rutgers v. Connecticut

Kudos of the Week: St. John’s for beating Notre Dame and defending your home court.
Shame of the Week: UConn for playing so flat and uninspired against G'town on national TV at home.

So that was the week that was in the Big East. Currently Villanova and Seton Hall are tied in overtime so you’ll hear about that next week if you miss it tonight. Either way the Big East is delivering big and entertaining games as you expected, as well as some upsets already. I love this conference. Any tips or something missing from the coverage you want, e-mail at syracuseorange44@gmail.com.

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