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Big East Weekly Wrap-Up - 1/17/22

Ref-ball, back-and-forth games, and the dominance of a UConn big man punctuated this week in the Big East

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

This is the second installment of a weekly series reviewing the last week of action around the Big East.

This week’s Big East Honor Roll includes Julian Champagnie of St. John’s, though he did not win the Player of the Week Award.

Adama Sanogo (more on him later) won the league’s Player of the Week award, and Creighton freshman Ryan Nembhard won the Freshman of the Week award for the fifth time. St. John’s will match up against Nembhard and the Creighton Bluejays later this week.

Also on the Honor Roll:

  • David Jones, DePaul, F
  • Darryl Morsell, Marquette, G,
  • Julian Champagnie, St. John’s, F
  • Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G,
  • Colby Jones, Xavier, G.

A closer look at some league-wide storylines this week...

The refs stole the spotlight

It’s never a good thing when officiating becomes the dominant storyline of your league’s past week of games, but spotty calls across multiple games blemished some entertaining Big East contests.

Seton Hall was unlucky enough to be involved in a couple of whistle-blowing contests over the past week. In their 96-92 loss to DePaul on Thursday evening, 49 fouls were called and 77 free throws were shot between the two teams. It took almost 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish a game that ended in regulation time.

In their very next game, the whistles continued to haunt the Pirates. With the game tied at 72 in the dying moments of regulation, Marquette’s Greg Elliott pump-faked a tie-breaking three-point shot, hesitated, then drew a foul after jumping into Seton Hall’s Bryce Aiken.

From the looks of the replay, Aiken kept his feet planted throughout the duration of the play. The play was a textbook demonstration of the type of manipulative foul-drawing the NBA has attempted to phase out this year.

Nonetheless, Elliott converted a game-winning free throw to propel Marquette to a razor-thin 73-72 victory. Instead of the postgame discussion focusing on an entertaining game that was closely contested for all 40 minutes, that last-second foul call by the James Breeding-led officiating crew became the hot button issue.

Marquette continued their winning ways

While the Golden Eagles were the benefactors of that late questionable foul call, their performance over the past two weeks shouldn’t be written off.

Last Tuesday night, Marquette conclusively defeated DePaul, 87-76. Five players scored in double-figures and for a third consecutive game, Marquette shot over 50 percent from the field and registered at least 24 assists. The offense regressed to the mean in their following contest against the aforementioned Seton Hall Pirates, but they managed to stay afloat for all forty minutes against the then-20th ranked Pirates, never trailing by more than five at any point in Saturday afternoon’s contest.

Darryl Morsell earned a spot on this week’s Big East Honor Roll for averaging 21 points across this past week’s two contests, which also included a 26 point performance in the win over Seton Hall.

With their third win over a ranked opponent, Marquette has firmly established themselves as a tournament team for the time being. Before the start of Saturday’s game versus Seton Hall, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projected Marquette as one of the last four byes in his latest Bracketology projection.

If Marquette can avoid the dreaded late-season collapses that plagued them multiple times over recent years, they can breathe easily on Selection Sunday.

Villanova escaped Xavier and bludgeoned Butler

To the shock of nobody, Villanova is still the class of the Big East.

Whether it is narrowly escaping a comeback run against a ranked team on the road or running a conference foe out of the gym to the tune of a 40-point defeat, the Wildcats have shown they can still win in so many different ways. The Wildcats controlled the first 30 minutes and change of their game against Xavier, as they led 54-42 with 10 minutes to go in the second half.

That was a comfortable lead until the Musketeers engineered a 14-2 run over the next eight minutes to tie the game at 56. A Justin Moore and-one with under two minutes left and a couple of ensuing big stops allowed Villanova to escape the unfriendly confines of Cintas Center with a 64-60 win on Wednesday night.

In their next game, Villanova left zero doubt of the game’s result, annihilating Butler in an 82-42 victory. The Wildcats never trailed against Butler and they threw the kitchen sink at them on both ends of the ball.

Defensively, Villanova only allowed Butler to shoot 30 percent from the field and just 27 percent from beyond the arc. Offensively, Villanova was actually more efficient from three-point range (63 percent) than they were from inside the three-point line (57 percent). This loss was Butler’s worst defeat since the Bulldogs took a 104-64 defeat against North Carolina on January 24, 1994.

Adama Sanogo is the clear frontrunner for Most Improved Player

After a quiet, yet productive, freshman year Adama Sanogo is making himself a big name in the Big East.

After leading the Huskies with an 18 point, 16 rebound performance in a 96-92 overtime loss to Seton Hall, the native of Mali continued to have his way this week when he put up the eyebrow-raising stat line of 26 points, 18 rebounds, and 6 blocks against St. John’s in another game that went to overtime. That performance alone was enough to earn him the distinction of Big East Player of the Week.

In 11 games this season, Sanogo is averaging 15.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. If he can continue his dynamic play over the remainder of the Big East season, he can become a dark horse candidate for Big East Player of the Year.