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Big East Notebook

When the dust settled after a wild weekend of Big East Conference men’s basketball, a Syracuse team still licking its wounds after losing to Villanova Saturday remains at the top of the heap with an 18-2 overall record and 6-1 league mark. Marquette held off visiting Providence and aggressive bats flying around the Bradley Center for a 10-point victory.

Mike Brey's team got a shot of energy after defeating South Florida Saturday and watching other top-tier Big East opponents get upset over the weekend.

One bat chased Providence’s Bryce Cotton, the Big East's leading scorer, while he was dribbling up the court. Now at 5-1, Marquette is chasing only the Orange.

Pittsburgh has quietly pieced together a four-game win streak, including an unmerciful 93-55 beating laid down on DePaul Saturday, which was the largest margin of victory for the Panthers in a league game since they joined the Big East. Coach Jamie Dixon says this is the deepest squad he’s coached since coming to Pitt in 2003. His bench scored 52 points versus DePaul.

“We're coming together as a unit," senior guard Tray Woodall told the Chicago Tribune. "We have 10 guys who bring it every day. Anyone can lead us in scoring. We just want to keep playing hard."

"This was obviously a game we'd like to flush away and burn the tape," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said after his team dropped to 10-0 overall and 1-5 in the Big East.

Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3) watched the weekend carnage from a safe distance, having been idle since Jan. 21 and gearing up for Rutgers’ visit to Fifth Third Arena Wednesday. The Bearcats lost to Syracuse 57-55 the last time out after winning three straight.

St. John’s maturing rapidly

A squad that plays four freshmen, five sophomores and one JUCO transfer has come of age quickly and is on a four-game win streak — its longest since rattling off six straight during the 2010-11 season.

D’Angelo Harrison is second in the Big East in scoring (19.6 points per game).

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said his team faces a must-win game tonight against Pitt.

“We are trending in the right direction, and with that being said, these kids are very humble and realize we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin said after the game.

Chris Obekpa leads the nation with 4.6 blocks per game.
St. John’s had lost four of its previous five games before hosting Notre Dame on Jan. 15 at Madison Square Garden. The Red Storm turned to a smaller lineup to stifle the Fighting Irish perimeter and come away with a 67-63 victory — the first of this current 4-0 run. They’ve stayed with a three-guard starting group ever since after limited the Irish to just 11-percent shooting from long range.

Villanova comes out of nowhere
Ryan Arcidiacono drained a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to push Saturday’s game against visiting No. 3 Syracuse to overtime and the Wildcats went on to post a stunning 75-71 victory. It was the first Big East defeat for the Orange and the second consecutive win over a top-5 team for ‘Nova. The Wildcats upended No. 5 Louisville four nights earlier at home.

Head coach Jay Wright’s crew went 9-4 during nonconference play and had lost three straight Big East contests prior to squaring off against Louisville. The Wildcats are now 13-7 and tied with five other schools (Cincinnati, Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgetown) at 4-3 in conference play, making their trip Wednesday to Purcell Pavilion in South Bend a crucial mid-season tilt.

Louisville in panic mode

The Cardinals have fallen like a rock with a grand piano tied to it since Jan. 19. After skating through nonconference play with only a five-point loss to Duke back in November, Louisville won its first four Big East games. Then head coach Rick Pitino’s top-ranked group was edged at home by Syracuse 70-68. Road trips to Villanova and Georgetown also resulted in head-scratching losses.

It’s the longest losing streak since January 2010 for Louisville, which is now 16-4 overall and 4-3 in league play. The Cardinals host Pittsburgh Monday night and Marquette on Feb. 3.

"We have to get this win. It's a must game for us," Pitino said. "Because four (in a row), now you're on the verge of getting a sub-.500 record in the league, and you don't want to mess with that."

League leaders
Scoring offense
1. Syracuse 77.1
2. Louisville 74.5
3. DePaul 73.2
5. Notre Dame 73.1

Scoring defense
1. Pittsburgh 54.5
2. Georgetown 55.5
3. Louisville 57.8
7. Notre Dame 62.0

Free throw percentage
1. Rutgers 73.5
2. Marquette 73.3
3. Connecticut 72.6
5. Notre Dame 70.7

Field goal percentage
1. Notre Dame 50.0
2. Pittsburgh 49.2
3. Connecticut 46.1

3-point field goal percentage
1. Notre Dame 39.7
2. Seton Hall 37.3
3. Pittsburgh 35.4

3-point field goal percentage defense
1. Providence 28.1
2. Syracuse 28.5
3. Cincinnati 30.1
13. Notre Dame 33.1

Rebounding margin
1. Cincinnati +8.5
2. Pittsburgh +8.3
3. Syracuse +6.9
5. Notre Dame +4.9

Blocked shots
1. St. John’s 8.1 per game
2. Syracuse 6.9
3. Cincinnati 6.7
10. Notre Dame 3.7

Assists
1. Notre Dame 18.2
2. Pittsburgh 17.6
3. Syracuse 15.8

Steals
1. Louisville 11.5
2. Syracuse 10.0
3. DePaul 9.5
15. Notre Dame 5.3

Turnover margin
1. Louisville +7
2. Syracuse +4.15
3. Pittsburgh +4.10
12. Notre Dame -0.35

Assist/turnover ratio
1 (tie). Pittsburgh 1.7
Notre Dame 1.7
3 (tie). Syracuse 1.2
South Florida 1.2
Connecticut 1.2
Louisville 1.2
Marquette 1.2

Offensive rebounds
1. Syracuse 15.8
2. Cincinnati 15.3
3. Louisville 13.6
12. Notre Dame 10.1

Defensive rebounds
1. Cincinnati 27.3
2 (tie). Villanova 26.2
Syracuse 26.2
6. Notre Dame 25.4

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