This is the sixth installment of a weekly series recapping the previous week of action in the Big East.
For the second straight week, Providence’s Jared Bynum was named Big East Player of the Week. In the Friars’ lone game of the past week, he scored 25 points, logged seven rebounds, and six assists in a 76-73 overtime victory over DePaul. Through 12 games of the Big East season, Bynum is averaging a team-high 14.8 points and 4.5 assists per game, and he is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 51.1 percent from three.
Honor Roll winners
- Tyrese Martin, UConn, G
- Justin Moore, Villanova, G
- David Jones, DePaul, F
- Ryan Hawkins, Creighton, F
- Jack Nunge, Xavier, C
A recap of last week’s storylines...
Providence survives another close encounter
Stop me if you have seen this before: Providence goes blow-for-blow with another Big East foe for the duration of the game, they find themselves trailing late, before one or two Providence players manage to will some clutch shots into existence to narrowly evade defeat. That same story played out against DePaul on Saturday evening, defeating the Blue Demons by a score of 76-73 in an overtime thriller and avoiding a landmine loss.
On paper, this game should have been a formality. An 11th ranked team on their home court facing a battered bottom-tier team without their top scorer Javon Freeman-Liberty, resorting to playing a seven-man rotation. Despite the circumstances, DePaul took complete control of this game, leading by 10 with about 12 minutes to go in the second half at one point.
The well ran dry for DePaul and Providence seized on the Blue Demons’ inability to score and rallied to force overtime. Another clutch and-one basket by Nate Watson, a flurry of free throws by Providence, and missed opportunities in the overtime period by DePaul punctuated the 21st win of the Friars’ dream season.
Providence, now ranked 8th in the latest AP Poll, will face their biggest challenge of the season when they take on the No. 10 Villanova Wildcats on Tuesday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. This game will go a long way in figuring out if the Friars are a legitimate threat or if their good fortunes have run out.
Marquette may be in the midst of another late-season collapse
The months of February and March have been unkind to the Golden Eagles in recent years. In 2019, Marquette dropped their final four Big East regular season games after a 12-2 start. In 2020, Marquette lost six of their last seven Big East regular season games after a 7-4 start. Last year seemed like it was going to be an exception, as they went 4-4 in the Big East play and grabbed a decisive 13-point victory in a hastily-scheduled non-conference game versus North Carolina, but they got steamrolled in the first round of the Big East tournament against the suddenly-cohesive Georgetown Hoyas.
Even with a new head coach in charge in Milwaukee, the Golden Eagles are at risk of crumbling apart late in the season once again. An 80-72 loss to UConn in Hartford this past Tuesday night shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but the ensuing drubbing from a floundering Butler team on Saturday afternoon should. The Bulldogs nearly turned the game into a laugher in the first half, leading 40-19 with less than five minutes to go once. Butler’s shooting woes disappeared, as they shot 13-of-28 from beyond the arc versus Marquette.
Of course, Marquette was able to battle back in the second half to render the final score to a more respectable 85-79 loss, but this was still a horrible loss for a tournament hopeful. Their next five games come against the four worse teams in the conference, including two games against a Georgetown team that is still searching for its first Big East win of the season. If the Golden Eagles aren’t careful, multiple losses in this stretch can sink another Marquette season.
Somehow, Xavier gets their first ranked win of the Big East season
It was quite a shock to find out that a ranked Xavier team that is regarded by many to be a clear top-25 team was still searching for their second ranked win of the season and their first ranked win in Big East play.
Since beating No. 19 Ohio State in the Gavitt Games on November 18th, Xavier has went 0-3 against ranked opponents, all of which have been Big East foes. On Friday night, Xavier broke that streak with a 74-68 victory over No. 24 UConn.
Iowa transfer and Big East Honor Roll listee Jack Nunge scored a game-high 22 points against a tough Huskies frontcourt. They will have at least two more chances to pick up ranked victories when they play now-No. 22 UConn on Saturday afternoon and they play a Providence team that should still be ranked within the top 25 on Wednesday, February 23rd.