It overshadowed a rivalry win for the No. 3 Jayhawks. Suspensions will likely be handed out. These teams also have a return matchup at Kansas State to look forward to on Feb. 29. We’ll hear more about this fight throughout the week.
TCU picks up signature win against No. 18 Texas Tech
During a major season of turmoil where upsets are normal and road wins are nearly impossible, TCU has stayed in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid with a positive 11-5 start.
TCU still has work to do if they want to secure a bid. Only one Q1 win, one Q2 win and a combined 2-5 record in those two quadrants isn’t going to cut it.
But with a 4-2 record in the Big 12, TCU is a team to keep tabs of the next several weeks. After getting absolutely destroyed by an average of 26 points per game the last two losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma, this is a quality bounceback win for the Horned Frogs. And the type of win that can jumpstart a postseason push.
No. 9 Villanova cruises past No. 16 Butler for Big East home win
Tuesday night’s only top-25 clash was in the Big East. Villanova ran past Butler for a 76-61 home win to keep pace with Seton Hall in the Big East standings.
Jermaine Samuels paced five double-figure scorers for Villanova with 20 points.
Big East brutality continued for Butler meanwhile.
The Bulldogs have lost three straight games in conference play. All three losses have come by at least eight points. It’s not only that Butler is losing but they’re playing poorly.
It feels like the Wildcats will once again remain in the Big East title picture this season. If Butler wants to say the same, they’ll need to figure things out quickly to fix its January swoon.
Myles Powell leads No. 18 Seton Hall past No. 5 Butler
Seton Hall earned another monster road win by knocking off No. 5 Butler, 78-70, on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Myles Powell had another exceptional effort to pace the No. 18 Pirates in the Big East win. The All-American candidate finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and three steals. For the second time in Big East play, the Pirates found themselves trailing by double digits on the road. And, for the second time, they turned to their senior leader to close down the stretch. Powell lifted Seton Hall with 19 second-half points when the Pirates desperately needed offense.
The guard’s veteran savvy, three-point marksmanship and big-game mentality are a huge reason why Seton Hall is now atop the Big East at 5-0. The Big East’s young season has already seen Powell will Seton Hall to multiple victories. Powell also outdueled fellow preseason All-American Markus Howard and Marquette for a Pirates win.
It’s still early in the Big East season. But Powell is making a massive case for Big East Player of the Year — if not more.
Powell is the obvious engine that drives Seton Hall. But the Pirates have turned into an elite team during this seven-game winning streak thanks to the continued development of role players. Senior big man Romaro Gill has come up big on both ends of the floor. The 7-foot-2 Gill finished with 17 points, four rebounds and three blocks. After only one double-figure scoring game the first 13 games of the season, Gill now has four straight double-figure games in Big East play.
Gill’s rapid improvement has also established him as the preferred center in Seton Hall’s big-man rotation ahead of Ikey Obiagu. Even when Gill fouled out, Obiagu’s ability to fill in and protect the rim was a factor in the Pirate closing Wednesday’s win.
Jared Rhoden (13 points) and Quincy McKnight (11 points) also have flourished during this recent stretch. Rhoden’s critical three-pointer with under a minute left gave the Pirates a two-possession lead. McKnight has proven himself to be an adequate scorer and distributor when teams overload on Powell.
Seton Hall has run off seven straight wins despite missing junior forward Sandro Mamukelashvili. The Pirates are continuing to establish new role players and secondary pieces to play around Powell. And what happens if Mamukelashvili returns to form once he’s healthy from a wrist injury? He’s scheduled to potentially return within the month as his presence would make Seton Hall even more dangerous.
Butler (15-2, 3-1) made an admirable push to nearly win this game after blowing the lead. A 7-0 run gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead at the under-four timeout. The lead was short-lived, however, as Powell and the Pirates closed them down. This isn’t a bad loss by any means for Butler. But losing at home to a team in the mix for the Big East title definitely stings in the conference race.
Kamar Baldwin paced Butler with 19 points. Jordan Tucker’s hot first half fueled his 14-point outing as his scoring uptick helped give the Bulldogs the first-half advantage. Butler looked strong and their pieces fit well together. They just don’t have the type of player who can keep up with a player like Powell when he gets rolling.
No. 11 Butler blows 23-point lead, survives St. John’s 60-58
NEW YORK — Christian David hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 43 seconds left and No. 11 Butler rallied after blowing a 23-point lead to beat St. John’s 60-58 Tuesday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
St. John’s (11-3, 0-1) staged a 29-4 run in the second half and took a 48-46 advantage on Marcellus Earlington’s layup with 6:49 remaining.
Butler (13-1, 1-0) trailed 58-53 when Raheem Dunn hit an uncontested layup with 3:08 left, but then the Bulldogs clamped down defensively. Kamar Baldwin’s jumper made it 58-57 with 2:01 remaining, and following a series of wild sequences at the rim, Butler took the lead.
Earlington blocked Bryce Nze’s layup with 49 seconds left, but Butler retained possession when Aaron Thompson grabbed the rebound. Baldwin found David, who hit an open 3-pointer from the right corner.
Dunn missed a layup with 19 seconds remaining and LJ Figueroa missed a 3-point try with one second left.
Baldwin led Butler with 19 points and a career-high five 3-pointers. Sean McDermott and Jordan Tucker added 12 points apiece as Butler shot 40% and overcame 24 turnovers.
Nick Rutherford led St. John’s with 15 points and Dunn added 12 as the Red Storm shot 34.5% and missed 18 of 22 3-point attempts, including their first 11 tries.
Butler: Butler continued to be stout defensively, using an aggressive defense that held another opponent under 60 points. The Bulldogs have held 10 of their first 14 opponents under 60 points.
St. John’s: It was a tough night for leading scorer Figueroa, who picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and sat for most of the Red Storm’s comeback. He went scoreless in 13 minutes.
Butler hosts Creighton in its first Big East home game Saturday.
St. John’s visits Xavier on Sunday, which lost at Villanova in its conference opener.
No. 11 Baylor holds on for a 53-52 win over No. 18 Butler
WACO, Texas — Mark Vital blocked Kamar Baldwin’s potential go-ahead shot with 1.5 seconds left and No. 11 Baylor held on to beat previously undefeated No. 18 Butler 53-52 on Tuesday night.
It was the second win in a row, and third this season, for Baylor (8-1) over a Top 25 team.
Butler (9-1) was the third team to lose for the first time, after No. 1 Louisville and No. 4 Maryland lost earlier Tuesday night. That left five undefeated Division I teams.
The Bulldogs never led, but had the ball after Aaron Thompson rebounded Davion Mitchell’s missed shot before a timeout with 7.9 seconds left. After Baldwin inbounded the ball, he got it back and drove for a layup that was swatted away and out of bounds and last touched by the shooter.
After MaCio Teague missed a free throw for Baylor, the Bulldogs had 0.7 seconds left. A desperation shot by Baldwin, who finished with 19 points, wasn’t close — and likely came after the buzzer anyway.
Teague and Devonte Bandoo each had 10 points for Baylor, whose coach, Scott Drew, is a 1993 Butler graduate and faced his alma mater as a head coach for the first time.
Sean McDermott had 16 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Bulldogs.
Butler, after trailing by 16 points in the first half, had a chance to tie the game with 3:46 left after Baldwin — whose 15-footer had just gotten the Bulldogs within a basket — rebounded a missed 3 by Baylor. But Baldwin had his potential tying shot blocked by Mark Vital, who then scored on the other end to make it 53-49.
The Bulldogs had gotten within 44-40 midway through the second half after Baldwin’s third consecutive basket came in a stretch when they made seven shots in a row.
Butler: The Bulldogs were trying to get to 10-0 for the first time since 2006-07. They were still good defensively, having come in allowing only 56.2 points a game — and holding Baylor to under that.
Baylor: The Bears are one bad stretch from being undefeated. Their only loss was to Washington in the second game of the season in Alaska, when they had a 10-point lead before not making another field goal in the final five minutes.
After five games in a row against teams from major conferences, Butler is home Saturday against Southern University.
Baylor has only two more games in December. The Bears play UT-Martin on Dec. 18 in Houston, then are home against Jackson State on Dec. 30 in their last game before opening Big 12 play.
Baldwin scores 31 as No. 24 Butler beats Ole Miss 67-58
OXFORD, Miss. — Another big performance from Kamar Baldwin kept No. 24 Butler unbeaten after an early-season test in an SEC arena.
Baldwin scored a season-high 31 points and the Bulldogs opened a large lead in the second half before holding off Mississippi 67-58 on Tuesday night in a game they never trailed.
“We swung first. Then we held on,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “We showed poise on the road and we executed. And what can you say about Kamar? He’s playing at a really high level.”
Baldwin shot 11 of 16 from the field, including 4 for 5 from 3-point range, to lead the Bulldogs (8-0). He added six rebounds and three assists.
Jordan Tucker and Bryce Nze each had eight points for Butler, and Nze grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me when I got to the open spots,” Baldwin said. “When they come to me, I’m supposed to hit the shots.”
Breein Tyree scored 22 points and Khadim Sy added 12 for Ole Miss (5-3).
After trailing 31-22 at halftime and 50-34 midway through the second half, the Rebels pulled to 52-48 on Tyree’s layup with 9:11 left. Butler answered with an 8-3 run, highlighted by six points from Baldwin, and the Rebels never got closer than seven again.
The Bulldogs finished 27 of 47 (51%) from the floor, including 8 for 17 on 3s (47%), and forced 17 turnovers.
“I saw some positive things tonight and I was proud we made a great comeback,” Mississippi coach Kermit Davis said. “Their best player just took over the game. It’s that simple. We missed shots down the stretch and Butler is way too good for that.”
The Rebels shot 22 of 55 (40%) from the field, including a combined 14 for 25 from Tyree and Sy. Ole Miss was 7 of 22 (31%) from beyond the 3-point arc and a season-low 7 for 15 (46%) at the free throw line.
Butler: This was an NCAA Tournament resume-building road win. Picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason coach’s poll, the Bulldogs appear to be much better than predicted. They raced to a 22-8 lead and never trailed as Baldwin had 12 points in the first half while missing only one shot from the field.
“I thought that 22-8 start was huge,” Jordan said. “We challenged our group coming in to get off to a good start and we prepared well. We got contributions from everybody in that fast start.”
Ole Miss: Sy, a 6-foot-10 junior college transfer, had his best performance of the season — including three dunks in the first half. … Since starting swingman Luis Rodriguez was injured, the Rebels have lost two of three games. A broken left foot will keep Rodriguez sidelined for eight weeks.
Butler: Winning on the road against an SEC opponent coming off an NCAA Tournament berth last season should at least be enough to keep the Bulldogs ranked.
Beginning in September and running up until November 6th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2019-20 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the Big East Conference.
This will be the last season of the Big East in its reconstituted form since its basketball-focused members broke away in 2013 with Connecticut set to (re-)enter the conference next season. That should make the league stronger and deeper while adding to the east-coast membership that made the league great to begin with.
That’s all for next year, though.
This season, Villanova looks formidable once again, but not the heavy favorite it has been previously with Seton Hall and Xavier looking like real competitors while Marquette, Georgetown, Providence and Creighton all lurking threats.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Villanova isn’t going anywhere
The losses of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are significant, but, when looking at recent Villanova history, it isn’t exactly the most daunting reloading task Jay Wright has faced and conquered, right? The Wildcats have the benefit of a solid core returning with point guard Collin Gillispie flanked by Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Cole Swider and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree all back after helping Wright to another Big East title.
That group will be joined by a top-five recruiting class that may help create the separation Villanova will be looking for with a league trying once again to knock them off. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a top-15 prospect in 2019, and the 6-foot-8 forward is already creating buzz around Philadelphia. Bryan Antoine is another five-star prospect, but the timing of his availability is in question. Justin Moore and Eric Dixon, a pair of four-stars, round out the class. Don’t forget about Brandon Slater, either. He’s a former top-50 prospect who didn’t see much time last year, but could see a bigger role this season.
The Wildcats may be more reliant on youth than Wright would like, but a legitimate experienced foundation should help augment that green talent.
2. Marquette went from national title contender to something else
Marquette is probably going to be fine this year. The Golden Eagles might even be pretty good. They won’t be, however, the top-five, national-title contending squad we all thought they’d be for the better part of a whole weekend back in April after Markus Howard announced he’d return to Milwaukee on a Friday and before Sam and Joey Hauser announced they were hightailing it out of there on Monday.
So Marquette isn’t going to be as good as we thought they might have a chance at being. Coach Steve Wojciechowski, though, does have a damn interesting group. Markus Howard already took a bazillion shots – making a nice percentage of them – so what happens without the Hausers? Utah State transfer Koby McEwen is a nice addition who should help offensively while Theo John and Sacar Anim are proven Big East contributors. Symir Torrence was a top-50 recruit in 2020 before reclassifying to join Marquette for this season.
Any team with Howard is going to be interesting – he’s incredibly fun to watch – and competitive, and Marquette certainly has more than just the 5-foot-11 dynamo. Wojo’s team doesn’t have the ceiling they had for those fleeting April hours, but they’re going to be a great overcoming adversity story.
Or a disappointing what-if.
3. Seton Hall brings everybody back
So there are two ways to look at Seton Hall.
The optimistic version goes like this: Coach Kevin Willard returns essentially his entire roster, including All-American candidate Myles Powell, from a 20-game winner that was a 10-seed in the NCAA tournament, and with the talent and cohesiveness that continuity brings, the Pirates should make a considerable jump, maybe to even something like a top-10 team.
The pessimistic version: Willard returns essentially his entire roster, including All-American candidate Myles Powell, from a 20-game winner that was a 10-seed in the NCAA tournament, and given most of those players are now upperclassmen, they’re already pretty close to their ceiling. They’ll be improved, sure, but expectations that they’ll take a giant leap are overly rosey.
The verdict: Powell is awesome, Willard can coach and the supporting cast is strong. Seton Hall will be legit.
4. Xavier looking to build on strong finish
Travis Steele’s tenure as Xavier’s coach began with a 3-8 Big East record. That first season finished with six wins in the last seven regular season games plus one win in each the Big East tourney and the NIT. The momentum continued into the offseason when Naji Marshall, Quentin Goodin, Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs all went through the predraft process only to ultimately decide to return to the Queen City and Steele’s program.
That gives Xavier the look of a true threat to the rest of the Big East. Adding Ohio transfer Jason Carter also allows for Marshall, who averaged 15 & 7 last year, to slide from power forward to the three, which is more his natural position. The Musketeers also added Western Michigan’s Bryce Moore for some backcourt depth.
5. The bottom could lag far behind the rest
Mustapha Heron and LJ. Figueroa are nice pieces for Mike Anderson as he takes over St. John’s after Chris Mullin’s misfire tenure in Queens, but they’re surrounded by mostly newcomers on the rest of the roster. DePaul lost its three leading scorers, but Charlie Moore is immediately eligible after stops at Cal and Kansas and Dave Leitao is bringing in a solid recruiting class. Still, it doesn’t look like a roster capable of inflicting a lot of fear in the conference. The Red Storm and Blue Demons looks destined for the last two spots in the standings by a significant margin.
The question will be does Butler join them or elevate into the world of NCAA tourney-hopefuls? Kamar Baldwin’s continued presence in Indianapolis weighs heavy in the Bulldogs’ favor, but how good is the supporting cast? There are some interesting options in Jordan Tucker, Aaron Thompson, Derrik Smits, Sean McDermott and Bryce Nze, but when you look around the rest of the league, does that measure up?
PRESEASON BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Markus Howard, Marquette
This was an agonizing decision between two dynamic guards in Howard and Seton Hall’s Myles Powell. Both are, obviously, great college players who can absolutely fill it up. I was tempted to go with co-players of the year, but ties are boring and we all gotta pick a side, right? Howard gets the nod here with the slightest of edges. Both are extremely high-usage (Howard moreso) and pure shooters (Howard is great from 3; Powell nearer the basket), but Howard is a significantly more proficient distributor, with an assist rate of 27.2 last year compared to 18.4 for Powell.
Howard has an interesting season ahead of him with, crazy as it may be for a guy who took 38 percent of his team’s shots while he was on the floor in Big East play, perhaps an even bigger offensive burden with the transfer of the Hausers. How he navigates that will be the biggest determinant of where Marquette’s season goes.
THE REST OF THE BIG EAST FIRST TEAM
MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall: The best player on what may prove to be the Big East’s best team and maybe the best player in the league.
ALPHA DIALLO, Providence: A potential All-American candidate, Diallo is a major matchup problem.
NAJI MARSHALL, Xavier: The 6-foot-7 junior averaged 15 points and seven rebounds last year.
TY-SHON ALEXANDER, Creighton`: After averaging 15 points as a sophomore, Alexander is in line for a huge junior campaign.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW
KAMAR BALDWIN, Butler
OMER YURTSEVEN, Georgetown
JAMES AKINJO, Georgetown
MUSTAPHA HERON, St. John’s
JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL, Villanova
BREAKOUT STAR: Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Jay Wright a top-10 recruiting class in 2018 with a five-star prospect, two four-stars and a three-star. That lowest-rated recruit, Saddiq Bey, turned in a wildly productive and important freshman season for the Wildcats as a 29-game starter. With Booth and Paschall vacating the lineup, Bey looks to step into a much larger role as a sophomore.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Is there one?
You would think DePaul would be seriously reconsidering its reunion with Dave Leitao, who has gone 48-72 overall and 16-56 in the Big East in his second stint in Chicago, but the Blue Demons are reportedly spending this fall in negotiations to extend him a few more years. So, apparently, DePaul is cool how Leitao is guiding the program, which has gone to two NCAA tourneys in the last 27 years. Get excited, Chicago.
The more interesting name to consider is Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski, who has gone to two NCAA tournaments in five seasons, but has yet to win a game there and saw last year’s team implode down the stretch before watching Sam and Joey Hauser, his second- and third-best players, walk in April. Marquette, though, seemingly decided to halt this discussion before it started with an extension through 2024 that looks to send a signal that they’re content with the trajectory on which Wojo has has the Golden Eagles pointed.
While obviously under no pressure for their job security, Butler’s LaVall Jordan and Xavier’s Travis Steele share a certain kind of pressure as the perception of both of their tenures will be heavily weighted by this season. Both took over for hugely successful coaches in programs both used to winning and producing some of the coaching profession’s elite practitioners, and neither did much to reinforce the legacy last year. Jordan and Steele are both well-regarded by their peers and have the pieces to have interesting teams this season.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING …
At least half of the conference makes the NCAA tournament cut, with maybe even a sixth and aspirationally a seventh also in the fold.
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR
Dec. 21, Villanova vs. Kansas
Nov. 14, Seton Hall vs. Michigan State
Dec. 14, Georgetown vs. Syracuse
Dec. 17, Providence vs. Florida
Dec. 7, Xavier vs. Cincinnati
1. VILLANOVA: The Wildcats have clear question marks, but it seems silly, especially after last season (or maybe the two national titles), to think Jay Wright can’t answer them well enough to get the most of his talent and the best of the league. Villanova will face real threats to the crown, but it’s experience, influx of talent and the man on the bench should be enough to finish on top.
2. SETON HALL: Myles Powell is going to start the season on some All-American lists, and the talent around him make the Pirates a preseason top-15 squad. They’ll likely have to at least live up to that billing if they’re going to have a shot at dethroning Villanova.
3. MARQUETTE: This might be too high for the Golden Eagles given the turmoil of the offseason, but there’s a lot more here than just Markus Howard after the Hauser brothers’ departures. Assuming Howard is as unassailable a scorer as he was last year – and maybe more so – Wojo might just have enough additional firepower to keep Marquette near the top of the league, if not the national polls.
4. CREIGHTON: Ty-Shon Alexander had a quietly fantastic sophomore season, and could be in line for a major breakout as a junior in Greg McDermott’s offense, which has been consistently really good even after his National Player of the Year son Doug’s departure from Omaha. If the defense can keep pace, the Bluejays could be in for quite a year.
5. XAVIER: The Musketeers looked primed to continue the trend line they started with strong finish to last season. Naji Marshall leads the group, and there’s more than enough around him to think that Xavier is back in the Big Dance after a one-year hiatus for a program not accustomed to spending March without an invite.
6. GEORGETOWN: Patrick Ewing appears to have his alma mater on the cusp of returning to, if not its former glory, the NCAA tournament. James Akinjo and Mac McClung were one of the more fun backcourts in the conference last year, and now their challenge is to go from entertaining to productive at a high level. The loss of Jessie Govan stings, but N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven could be an overall upgrade at center. The Hoyas also get Josh LeBlanc back after a solid freshman season.
Ewing has upgraded the roster in a hurry, and he’s finally upgraded the schedule as well, with a non-conference slate that will not only test his still-young Hoyas, but, if they can pull out a few of them, provide a serious tournament resume boost that could get them over the hump.
7. PROVIDENCE: We all know how good Alpha Diallo is and will be this year, but the Friars’ fortunes could hinge on Luwane Pipkins’ transition into the program after transferring from UMass. The 5-foot-11 grad transfer was high-scoring with a high assist rate for the Minutemen, which makes him a potentially huge asset for a team that struggled to score and take care of the ball last season. Providence might go only as far as Pipkins can take them – or at least as far as he can make everyone better.
8. BUTLER: Kamar Butler is one of the league’s best players, but against a deep and experienced league, that’s probably not going to be enough to get the Bulldogs far out of the cellar of the league. They’ll need someone to step into the void to make a serious play up the standings and into the NCAA tournament.
9. ST. JOHN’S: Mike Anderson is a fine coach. He had measurable success at Arkansas, but still got shown the door from a gig that should have been the perfect fit. So to expect instant – or medium- or long-term? – success with a fit that’s awkward or unorthodox seems ill-advised. Maybe he’ll get things moving there in a way that Chris Mullin couldn’t, but it’ll take some time. Inheriting Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa should at least help with the transition and keep the Red Storm out of the 10th spot.
10. DEPAUL: The Blue Demons have only avoided a last-place Big East finish once in Dave Leitao’s second go-round in Chicago, his first season of 2015-16, and are now under three years of NCAA probation (with Leitao getting a three-game suspension) for recruiting violations. So it’s not exactly going great for DePaul, though the Blue Demons have upgraded the talent level. We’ll see if it’s enough to lift them out of the cellar.