VILLANOVA, PA – (Staff Report from Official News Release) – It’s probably too early in the conference season to call it a showdown, but Villanova and St. John’s met Tuesday night with first place on the line. The Wildcats trailed 67-62 with 4:07 to play, but closed the game with a 14-4 run and earned a 76-71 victory against the Johnnies at Finneran Pavilion.
Villanova, 3-0 in the standings and already the only unbeaten team in league play, is 12-4 overall. St. John’s, which broke into the national polls this week — No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 23 in USA Today — is 2-2 in the BIG EAST and 14-2 overall.
The Wildcat duo of Eric Paschall and Phil Booth led the way with 25 and 23 points, respectively. Villanova has trailed at halftime in each of its three league games. St. John’s Shamorie Ponds, who won multiple National Player of the Week awards this week, led his team with 23 points.
FS1 has a Wednesday doubleheader that starts with Georgetown at Xavier at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Hoyas (11-4, 1-1) are coming off a 97-94 overtime loss to St. John’s. Freshman Josh LeBlanc, who was not a starter when the season began, already has four double-doubles. He is averaging 10.1 points and his 8.1 rebounding average ranks second in the BIG EAST. Not surprisingly, Xavier has been led by the trio of Naji Marshall (13.1 ppg), Paul Scruggs (12.8) and Quentin Goodin (12.6). Goodin’s 5.4 assist average is second in the league.
In the second game on FS1 at 8:30 p.m., Seton Hall hosts Butler. The Pirates are coming off a 75-74 loss at DePaul, which snapped a seven-game winning streak. That is the same score by which the Bulldogs beat the Pirates in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals last March, the last meeting between the teams. Seton Hall took both regular-season meetings. The team’s top two scorers are junior guards, Myles Powell (22.2) for the Hall and Kamar Baldwin (16.5) for the Bulldogs.
Marquette plays at Creighton on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. The Golden Eagles (12-3) are ranked 16th by AP and 21st by USA Today. MU’s Markus Howard leads the BIG EAST in scoring with a 24.0 average and with 57 3-pointers made. Howard is also sixth in the league in assists with a 4.2 mark. The Bluejays (10-5), who are playing their home league opener, are paced by guard Ty-Shon Alexander who is averaging 16.7 points and is second to Howard in 3-pointers with 47.