VILLANOVA, PA – (Staff report from Official News Release) – Seton Hall and Villanova, the top two selections in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll, picked up hard-earned victories on Tuesday, the first night of conference play.
The Pirates, who edged the Wildcats by one point in the poll, put the defensive clamps on DePaul down the stretch and pulled out a 74-66 win at Wintrust Arena. Seton Hall held DePaul to nine points over the last 10 minutes of the game and none in the final 2:36. DePaul led for 30 minutes in the game.
The Hall’s Myles Powell returned after missing two games due to concussion protocol to score a game-high 27 points and added five rebounds and five steals. Paul Reed led the Blue Demons with 17 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Villanova used a 15-0 run to gain a lead against Xavier, then held off the Musketeers in the second half of a 68-62 victory. The veteran duo of juniors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels led the way. Gillespie finished with 24 points and five assists and Samuels added 14 points and eight rebounds. Xavier, which had a 46-28 scoring edge in the paint, was led by Naji Marshall’s 19 points and Tyrique Jones’ 12 points and 10 boards.
The New Year’s Eve schedule has two more league openers. At 5:30 p.m. ET, Providence hosts Georgetown and Butler meets St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena at 7:30 p.m. FS1 will televise both games.
Providence (7-6) holds an 18-15 edge at home in the all-time series with Georgetown, though the Hoyas won last year’s meeting 76-67 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Georgetown (10-3) is riding a six-game winning streak.
Butler (12-1), ranked 11th in this week’s Associated Press poll, has started 12-1 for the sixth time since 2001-02. The Bulldogs lost to the Johnnies in last year’s Carnesecca Arena meeting 77-73 in overtime. St. John’s (11-2) has won seven in a row.