Big East Future Basketball

The beginning of the end of the Big East tournament starts today

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My first memory of college basketball is a Big East tournament game. It was just a couple week before my 11th birthday. I was on the couch with my dad, watching UConn — and my hero at the time, Ray Allen — take on Georgetown and Allen Iverson in the 1996 Big East title game. Georgetown pushed their lead up to 11 points with about three minutes left, and thinking that the game was over, my dad tried to get me to go to sleep.

I wasn’t budging. I somehow managed to negotiate my way into a couple more possessions, which led to seeing Allen’s miracle floater and Jerome Williams’ inability to make a layup live.

It was awesome.

I can pretty much pinpoint my college hoops fandom to that exact moment in time, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that seeing that shot go in changed my life. Not in some hokey, romanticized way, but if I don’t become a college hoops junkie, I’m not doing this for a living today. That shot was what got me hooked. It was what created my need for a fix on a nightly basis from November through early April.

Which is why today is so depressing.

Tuesday marks the beginning of the end of the Big East as we know it.

The last first round of the Big East tournament will kick off, as South Florida and Seton Hall square off before Rutgers and DePaul tangle in the nightcap, which will undoubtedly spawn thousands of jokes from the twitter comedians about how empty MSG is and how bad DePaul has been.

It’s been an annual tradition, really. We make fun of the first day or two of games before enjoying just how amazing it is to see the Garden packed at Noon on a Thursday for a quarterfinal game. And while the Big East will live on with the Catholic 7, it won’t be the same without UConn, Syracuse or Pitt taking part.

Wistful Big East hoop fans and disappointed media members aren’t the only ones sad to see the end of the Big East as we know it.

The players that made all those memories that we, as fans, cherish, they’re none-too-pleased about the recent conference realignment developments, as you might imagine:

“To see the way it’s going now, it’s kind of sad for me because I was there,” Anthony said. “I was in it. I was part of those games. I was part of those rivalries. I was part of the Big East family.”

So were Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning. So were Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson. So were Ray Allen and Emeka Okafor.

“I don’t know who is in the Big East now, to be honest,” said Okafor, a former Connecticut Husky who plays center for the Washington Wizards. “I could tell you who was in it when I was in it. But now I’m all confused.”

I’ve come to grips with it at this point. It’s a business. It’s not about fans or tradition, it’s about dollar signs.

Doesn’t make it any less disappointing.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 23 USC falls at Arizona State

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley applauds the efforts of his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
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No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.

No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.

The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.

Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.

As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle¬†executing in the half court.

Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.

Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.

Davis helps No. 19 Dayton beat Rhode Island 68-66

Dayton's Scoochie Smith (11) drives past Rhode Island's Jarvis Garrett (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Kingston, R.I., on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)
(AP Photo/Joe Giblin)
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KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) Darrell Davis made a go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner with 21.1 seconds left and No. 19 Dayton beat Rhode Island 68-66 on Friday night.

Rhode Island’s Four McGlynn missed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left. Dayton got the rebound, and Steve McElvene made one of two free throws for the Flyers with 0.3 seconds to go.

Dyshawn Pierre led Dayton (21-3, 11-1 Atlantic 10) with 17 points and also had nine rebounds. Scoochie Smith added 16 points, and Davis finished with eight.

The Flyers won their ninth straight game and ended a six-game losing streak in Kingston.

McGlynn had 19 points for Rhode Island (14-11, 6-6). Hassan Martin added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

There were 17 lead changes, three in the final 55 seconds.

Pierre made two free throws with 55 seconds left to give the Flyers a one-point lead. Martin countered for the Rams with a three-point play 40 seconds left.

TIP-INS

Dayton: Dayton’s 21-3 start is its best since also opening 21-3 in 2008-09. … The Flyers shot 52.0 percent, going 26 of 50.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island’s six Atlantic 10 losses have been by a combined 30 points. … Martin made his 15th career double-double.

UP NEXT:

Dayton: at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night.

Rhode Island: at VCU on Tuesday night.