Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Gibson scores 22 as DePaul surprises No. 8 Xavier 73-72

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CHICAGO – Wins like this are just what DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield envisioned when he was hired two years ago to restore a once-proud program. He promised more are coming.

Umoja Gibson scored 22 points, Javan Johnson added 16 and DePaul surprised No. 8 Xavier 73-72 on Wednesday night.

The Musketeers (15-4, 7-1 Big East) came in rolling with 11 straight wins – their best run since the 2015-16 team got off to a 12-0 start. But they came up short against the Blue Demons (9-10, 3-5).

DePaul led by seven with about eight minutes remaining and made just enough plays to come away with its first win over a top-10 team since beating No. 5 Butler exactly three years earlier at Wintrust Arena.

“We’re gonna get some more,” said Stubblefield, a longtime assistant at Oregon before DePaul hired him in April 2021. “This is what we’re supposed to do. This is the reason I came here. This should be the norm.”

Xavier led 70-68 after a twisting layup by Adam Kunkel with 1:43 remaining. DePaul’s Eral Penn answered with a three-point play, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with a minute to play.

Zach Freemantle put Xavier back on top, 72-71, when he made two free throws with 46 seconds remaining. But Da’Sean Nelson answered with a layup to put DePaul ahead 73-72 with 28 seconds left.

Souley Boum then missed a layup, leading to a scramble and jump ball, giving DePaul possession with 2.4 seconds remaining. That helped seal the Blue Demons’ first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 21 Xavier on Feb. 5, 2022.

“I feel like we knew we could get the job done,” Johnson said. “It’s just a matter of sticking together and playing our game and getting stops defensively.”

Gibson, who transferred from Oklahoma last spring, made five 3-pointers. Johnson hit three from beyond the arc. Nelson scored 10, and the Blue Demons won for the second time in three games.

Freemantle had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Xavier. Jack Nunge finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. But it was a rough night for Big East scoring leader Souley Boum and backcourt mate Colby Jones. The two were a combined 4 of 26 from the field and 0 for 8 on 3-pointers, with Boum scoring a season-low four and Jones finishing with eight points.

“They’re also the same two guys that allowed us to be the No. 8 team in America,” coach Sean Miller said. “You win as a team and you lose as a team. This is the first time since I’ve coached these guys that I thought we had selfishness throughout our offense.”

TIGHT FINISH

Coming off a loss to Seton Hall after beating Villanova last week, DePaul led 64-57 with 7:49 remaining after Caleb Murphy hit a pull-up jumper. But Xavier reeled off seven straight, tying it on Freemantle’s layup off a turnover by the Nelson.

STRONG START

Gibson scored 17 in the first half and Johnson added 14 points for DePaul, including a 3 from the wing just before the buzzer that sent the Blue Demons to the locker room leading 45-40.

They were up 31-26 when Xavier went on a 10-2 run that Jerome Hunter finished with a dunk, making it 36-33 with 3:39 left in the half. Gibson then put DePaul back on top with a four-point play.

It was tied at 40 in the closing minute when DePaul’s Eral Penn made two free throws. Boum missed a driving layup before Johnson nailed a 3 to give the Blue Demons a five-point halftime lead.

BIG PICTURE:

Xavier: The Musketeers came in leading the Big East in scoring at 84.2 points per game, field-goal percentage and 3-point accuracy, only to turn in this dud. They shot 38% overall while making 4 of 20 3s and finished with just 13 assists. “If we play offense the way played offense in this game, there’s plenty of more losses coming,” Miller said.

DePaul: The big question for the Blue Demons now is whether they can build on this and use the win as a springboard for the program.

UP NEXT

Xavier: Hosts Georgetown on Saturday.

DePaul: Visits No. 22 Providence on Saturday.

Seton Hall defeats No. 15 UConn on Ndefo’s last-second layup

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NEWARK, N.J. – During St. Peter’s run to the Elite Eight last year, KC Ndefo gained a reputation as a tenacious rebounder and a hard-nosed defender who led the nation in blocks at 6-foot-7.

When Shaheen Holloway left St. Peter’s to coach his alma mater, Seton Hall, he brought Ndefo with him as a graduate transfer.

Fittingly, it was Ndefo who came away with a crucial rebound and winning put-back to give Holloway the biggest win of his first season as Pirates coach, as Seton Hall defeated No. 15 UConn 67-66 on Wednesday night.

“We’ve been seeing it every day since he got here,” Kadary Richmond said. “So it just becomes second nature to the rest of us that are in the locker room with him and in practice.”

Richmond had a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Ndefo had 14 points, including a last-second layup.

“I felt like I was doing a good job crashing the boards all game,” Ndefo said.

Ndefo grabbed his eighth rebound and had a follow-up layup with 1.6 seconds left. While he missed the ensuing free throw, Seton Hall (12-8, 5-4 Big East) held on to win after trailing by 17 in the first half.

“We’re starting to understand what I want. We’re starting to understand that if we defend and keep teams out of transition, we give ourselves a chance to win the game,” Holloway said.

UConn (15-5, 4-5 Big East) was without coach Dan Hurley due to COVID-19. The Huskies were trying to halt a two-loss skid, as Adama Sanogo scored 16 points and five rebounds, while Jordan Hawkins was an efficient 4-of-8 for 13 points to go along with six rebounds.

UConn jumped out to a 3-0 start and led 29-19 with just under five minutes left in the half. The Huskies would go on to lead by as many as 17 before the break, as Seton Hall trailed 40-26 after 20 minutes.

“We’re just mentally strong,” Tyrese Samuel said. “Being down 17, going into halftime, it’s like, ‘don’t worry, there’s another 20 minutes.”‘

Ndefo gave an emphatic slam of a miss from Samuel. Al-Amir Dawes then made a couple layups before his 3-pointer cut UConn’s lead to 48-40 early in the second half. When Ndefo had another dunk – this time on a fast break that Dawes assisted – UConn interim coach Luke Murray called a timeout with his team up 48-45 with 14:14 left.

“I thought I did a poor job coaching the guys in the second half, offensively in particular,” Murray said. “We talked about it at halftime. We knew that Seton Hall was gonna pick up the pressure in the second half, and we didn’t do a good job of handling it.”

COVID HITS COACH

Hurley and associate head coach Kimani Young were not on the sidelines after both tested positive for the coronavirus, the school announced early Wednesday. Neither made the trip to New Jersey on Tuesday. UConn assistant coaches Tom Moore and Murray, son of comedian Bill Murray, are in charge. Moore missed last week’s game at Marquette due to COVID.

Director of player development Mamadou Diarra and video and scouting coordinator Matthew Johnson each moved us a seat up on the bench.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Seen as a Final Four and National Championship contender just a few weeks ago, UConn has continued to tumble after falling nine spots in the latest Top 25 Poll.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: After ascending as high as No. 2 before Christmas, the Huskies have lost five of their last six.

Seton Hall: The Pirates have won four in a row. After some early season growing pains, Seton Hall appears to be figuring things out under Holloway.

UP NEXT

UConn: Hosts Butler on Sunday.

Seton Hall: Hosts No. 20 Marquette on Saturday.

Georgetown AD acknowledges ‘frustrating time’ under Patrick Ewing

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WASHINGTON — Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing’s loss-filled stint at his alma mater was called a “challenging and frustrating time” by athletic director Lee Reed, who added that “no one is more committed” to turning things around than the former star center.

Hours before the Hoyas set a Big East record by accumulating their 25th consecutive regular-season conference loss, 73-57 against visiting Villanova, Reed responded to a request for an interview from The Associated Press by issuing a statement that was emailed by a spokesperson.

“We recognize this is a challenging and frustrating time for the men’s basketball team and our fans,” said Reed, who also put out a comment about Ewing before a game about 10 months ago, although that one said the school was “committed” to sticking with him. “Coach Ewing understands that it is imperative to get the program back on track and no one is more committed than he is to making that happen.”

The defeat left Georgetown with a 5-11 overall record, 0-5 in conference play. Its previous outing was an 80-51 loss to Big East opponent Butler.

After the loss to Villanova, which Georgetown President Jack DeGioia attended, Ewing was asked whether he was concerned about his future.

“I’m here to talk about the game. My future is my future,” Ewing replied. “I’ll be the head coach at Georgetown until the president or the board decides for me to move on. … You know, a friend of mine sent me a quote today: `It’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get up.’ We got knocked down, so all we’re going to do is keep on getting up.”

Georgetown went 0-19 in the conference last season while going 6-25 overall, including a 21-game losing streak. The Hoyas also lost their final regular-season Big East game in 2020-21, before going on a surprising four-game run at Madison Square Garden in New York to claim the conference tournament title.

That allowed the team to make its lone NCAA Tournament appearance during Ewing’s tenure; that season ended with a first-round loss to Colorado.

Ewing, who as a player helped Georgetown and coach John Thompson Jr. win the 1984 national championship and make two other appearances in NCAA finals, is in his sixth season since replacing Thompson’s son, John Thompson III, as the school’s coach.

Georgetown is 73-95 under Ewing (a .435 winning percentage), including 26-68 (.277) in the Big East.

This is Ewing’s first head coaching job at any level – he worked as an assistant in the NBA after his Hall of Fame playing career ended – and his roster has seen repeated turnover because of students transferring away from Georgetown.

Late last season, in March 2022, Reed put out a statement hours before a game against Seton Hall, acknowledging the “disappointment of a difficult season,” and saying: “In this ever evolving landscape of college athletics we are committed to Coach Ewing, and we are working with him to evaluate every aspect of the men’s basketball program and to make the necessary changes for him to put us back on the path to success for next year.”

Before the start of this season, Ewing overhauled his staff by replacing all three assistants and brought in several transfer players, including leading scorer Primo Spears, who came over from Duquesne.

“I’m a very prideful person and Georgetown is a very prideful university,” Ewing said at his postgame news conference Wednesday, “and we don’t want to be associated with a losing streak, but it is what it is.”

Hopkins scores 27 to help Providence beat No. 4 UConn 73-61

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Bryce Hopkins scored 27 points and Providence dominated the second half and knocked off fourth-ranked UConn 73-61 on Wednesday night for their eighth straight victory.

Noah Locke added 17 points to help the Friars (13-3, 5-0) earn their second win over a ranked team this season and remain unbeaten in the Big East. It was Providence’s first win over the Huskies at Amica Mutual Pavilion since Feb. 20, 2012, when the Friars won 72-70. They played on campus during the pandemic.

Jordan Hawkins led the Huskies (14-2, 3-2) with 15 points, and Donovan Clingan added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Huskies have lost two in a row after opening the season with 14 straight wins and winning their first three conference games. UConn was held under 70 points for only the second time this season. The Huskies entered averaging 82 points per game.

The Friars added to a three-point halftime lead thanks to going 8 of 18 from the 3-point line and outscoring the Huskies 29-10 at the free-throw line.

Ed Croswell finished a fast break with a two-handed slam to put the Friars in front 51-43 as part of a 13-8 run that put the Friars in front 56-46 with just over nine minutes to play.

UConn cut it to 60-55, and a few possessions later Hopkins was whistled for a charge – his fourth foul – with 4:54 left. But he stayed aggressive, getting fouled after a Huskies turnover and dropping in a pair of free throws to help Providence pushed the lead back up to 64-55 with 3:33 showing on the clock.

Providence won a mad scramble after three misses on its next possession, with Locke dropping in a deep 3 from the wing.

Providence led for just 2:26 in the first half but used a late surge to take a 33-30 edge into the break.

The Huskies leaned on their size advantage early, compacting the Friars in the half court and forcing them into some unbalanced shots.

UConn controlled the glass, outrebounding Providence 21-14 and holding a 22-8 edge in the paint in the opening 20 minutes.

The Friars were hot from the outside, though, going 5 of 9 from beyond the arc despite shooting just 5 of 15 from two-point range.

They also were able to generate offense without starter Jared Bynum, who went to the locker room with a midsection injury and sat out the final 11 minutes of the half. Alyn Breed took his place in the lineup to begin the second half, with Bynum remaining on the bench the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: This is not the start to conference play the Huskies were looking for after winning their first three. They lost 83-73 at No. 22 Xavier over the weekend.

Providence: The Friars continue to find a way to stay in ball games, this time negating a big height disadvantage by hitting outside shots and getting to the line. That will help them stay in almost every game as they try to defend their regular-season Big East title.

UP NEXT

UConn returns home to host Creighton on Saturday.

Providence hosts St. John’s on Saturday.