Around the Big East: Big East Baller Update No. 8

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If this weekend has taught us anything, it’s that there is a lot happening outside of the Big East that is making conferences such as the Big Ten and Big Twelve look scarily good. I would put down No. 3 Michigan beating No. 4 Ohio St. as an honorable mention by default, but this is the Big East, and there are still some dangerous teams in this conference. 

Some teams are making late-season surges while others are trying to secure spots in the tournament, also known as March Madness. There is a lot on the line and only time will tell who and how many teams in the Big East will be represented. 

Player of the Week: 
Charlie Moore – DePaul 

Rookie of the Week: 
Colby Jones – Xavier 

DePaul vs. Seton Hall (Feb. 16): Metropolitan Competition 

On paper, this was an absolute blowout as Seton Hall has the better talent, but DePaul put up a serious fight in this contest. The Blue Demons got off to a hot start early, taking a four-point lead entering the first half before going back and forth with the Pirates for most of the second half. Seton Hall took the lead on a free throw by Sandro Mamukelashvili and never look back. To be fair, it was a three-point game with one minute left, but the Blue Demons could not capitalize on anything and ultimately let the Pirates seal the game on free throws, allowing them to win  60-52. 

DePaul had a chance to pick up its second conference win, but despite failing to do so, had some solid performances all around. Even without their top two scorers, Pauly Paulicap was able to secure a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Accompanying him was Kobe Elvis, who added 13 points but picked up nine turnovers. As for Seton Hall, Mamukelashvili picked up 25 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double, while getting support from Jared Rhoden’s 17 and Myles Cale’s 11-point performances. DePaul played some serious defensive hardball, nabbing 45 rebounds and forcing 20 total turnovers. Despite both teams shooting 37% overall, Seton Hall offensively outplayed DePaul everywhere else, landing 30.8% of all 3-point shots compared to DePaul’s 27.3%.   

Powerhouse teams that have yet to play DePaul should be wary because no game is a guarantee, especially with DePaul trying to end its season strong. 

Seton Hall vs. Georgetown (Feb. 20): The Sea Shanty of the Hoyaman 

There once was a pirate down in D.C., the name of which was Seton Hall. Georgetown fought hard, points were scored, but blow thy big leads, blow. Again, this was an on-paper victory for the Pirates, but that did not get written into fate at McDonagh Arena. In the first half, Georgetown got out in front first, leading by as much as 12 early on after breaking away from a series of deadlocks. It was a three-point game at the half and still anyone’s for the taking. 

The Pirates got off to a solid start in the second half, but the Hoyas managed to take back the lead after trying to catch up to them initially. From there, it was Georgetown holding onto the lead, which included some spectacular four-point plays, while Seton Hall tried to fight back. The key turning point of the game occurred when Takal Molson tried to pass the ball to Mamukelashvili, only for it to be ruled out-of-bounds. Only problem, he never went out of bounds, and it should have been Pirates’ ball, as the play was still alive. Instead, Georgetown got the ball back and won by a score of 81-75. 

The Pirates’ efforts were not to be in vain. Mamukelashvili had a 22-point day while Shavar Reynolds backed him up with 13 points of his own. The Hoyas were balanced though, as they had five guys (four starters) in double figures. Jamarko Pickett led the way with 20 points and Qudus Wahab had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Pirates just let the Hoyas have a field day offensively, allowing 50% of shots to connect in the game and letting the Hoyas shoot 62.5% from 3-point range. The Pirates, meanwhile, had no answers on their side for the 3-point barrage and had to rely on too many field goals in general. Soon may the Hoyaman come to bring some pain, upsets and dunks. On a day when the season seemed lost, they found a way to win. 

DePaul vs. St. John’s (Feb. 20): To the Spoiler goes the winnings 

The Johnnies are desperate to make March Madness after a slow start and hot middle part, but they just cannot do what they did against the Blue Demons if they have any chance of qualifying. DePaul came out of the gate stronger in the first half, leading by as much as 10 in a game that could have easily been a blowout (which St. John’s could not afford). St. John’s was able to fight back though, and they entered the half only down by one point after allowing David Jones to score a bucket with seven seconds left.  

In the second half, the DePaul expanded its lead to as much as 12, keeping St. John’s scorching offense quiet for close to four minutes. The Blue Demons were up by as much as 15 midway through the second half, but they allowed the Red Storm to storm back, cutting the lead down to as little as five with less than two minutes to go. From there on out though, free throws made the difference as St. John’s kept fouling, despite DePaul wanting the game to conclude so they could win another conference game. In the last 30 seconds alone, there were five free throws, two layups and a dunk made. The efforts of the Red Storm came up short though, and DePaul left New York with an 88-83 win. 

This was the game for Oscar Lopez, as he got into double figures, but it was Moore who stormed back with a vengeance and scored 24 points off the bench. DePaul also got assistance from Darious Hall and Ray Salnave, both of whom had 11 points each. Julian Champagnie put on a show as well with 29 points and was accompanied by the 16-point performance of Isaih Moore and 13-point sensation from Dylan Addae-Wusu. The Blue Demons were just better, making 63% of all shots, one out of every two 3-point shots and out-rebounding the Red Storm 39-33. The Red Storm, meanwhile, was limited to under 40% shooting overall, including a mere 36.4% from the arc. No one is safe from the wrath that the Blue Demons could release into the Big East. 

Like the race for the divisional crown, it should be a wild finish as teams will make that last push necessary to not only get a sweet spot in the conference tournament, but also find a way into March Madness. As the days to the conference championship near, what will the UConn Huskies do to make sure they do not have to play until the second round? Only time will tell. 

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