PHILADELPHIA – The evidence that the BIG EAST may be at its strongest from top to bottom this year was on display Saturday. Creighton, Xavier and Providence all took down ranked league opponents on the road and Marquette had to rally to take a four-point win against DePaul.
Creighton got an early 18-8 jump against No. 8 Villanova at Wells Fargo Center and pushed the advantage to 27-12 en route to a 76-61 victory. Bluejay Denzel Mahoney came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Creighton (17-5, 6-3 BIG EAST) got 44 points from its guard trio of Ty-Shon Alexander (16 points), Mitch Ballock (15) and Marcus Zegarowski (13). Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore each had 18 points for Villanova (17-4, 4-2) which saw its seven-game winning streak end.
Xavier, coming off a double OT loss to Marquette on Wednesday, recovered in a big way at No. 10 Seton Hall. The Musketeers grabbed a 74-62 win that ended the Pirates’ 10-game winning streak. The Musketeers (14-8, 3-6) raced to an 18-2 lead and increased it to 30-6. Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones each scored 19 points for XU. Marshall also had 10 rebounds and four assists while Jones shot 9-of-10 from the field and pulled down 18 rebounds. The 51-22 rebounding edge was the largest ever for Xavier in a BIG EAST game. Seton Hall (16-5, 8-1) was led by Quincy McKnight, who had 15 points before leaving with a leg injury.
Providence and No. 16 Butler played a tight game for 40 minutes, but the Friars emerged with a 65-61 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Luwane Pipkins led PC (12-10, 5-4) with 22 points, including 10-of-10 from the foul line. He made 6-of-6 in the game’s final 24 seconds. The Friars held a 27-1 edge in bench scoring. The Friars are 5-2 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Kamar Baldwin led five players in double figures for the Bulldogs (17-5, 5-4) with 14 points.
DePaul led Marquette most of the way before the Golden Eagles used a late spurt to take a 76-72 win at Fiserv Forum. Markus Howard led all scorers with 31 points, his 10th 30-point game this season. Koby McEwen added 13 points and nine rebounds. DePaul (13-9, 1-8) outshot the Golden Eagles (16-6, 6-4) from the field 50 percent to 40 percent. Charlie Moore led the Blue Demons with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Today’s schedule shows Georgetown playing St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. CBS Sports will televise at 1 p.m. ET. The Hoyas (12-9, 2-6), who want to end a three-game losing streak, won the first meeting 87-66 at Capital One Arena. Patrick Ewing is 3-3 against St. John’s (13-9, 2-7) as a coach and was 8-4 as a player. In four games at MSG this season, Rasheem Dunn is averaging a team-high 16.6 points.
Home teams are 25-20 (.556) in league games going into Sunday.