Winter Storm Bobby made the weather outside frightful, but the Big East has been so delightful. Since the calendar flipped to 2022, the Big East has had incredible games and incredibly good teams. With our Super Bowl matchup determined and February basketball about to tip off, let’s look at some of the best games to wrap up the first month of the year.
Writer’s Note: Head Coach Dan Hurley is probably still screaming in Who Dey right now.
Player of the Week: Justin Minaya – Providence
Freshman of the Week: Simas Lukosius – Butler
No. 17 Providence vs. No. 21 Xavier (Jan. 26): The comeback was just an illusion
Last Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came back down 27-3 to lose on a game-winning field goal. You can kind of guess how this ranked battle went.
Step one, one team blows out the other. Providence accomplished that step as easily as the Rams did, leading by 14. Next, the losing team rallies furiously like the Buccaneers, so that’s exactly what Xavier did. The Musketeers brought the pressure in the second half and tied the game with 6:14 left. Step three, the comeback is completed. After struggling to gain the lead, Paul Scruggs hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 54 seconds left. Al Durham tied it up 18 seconds later.
Finally, the team that was leading by a lot hits a game-winning field goal to bail themselves out. For the Rams, their field goal came when Matthew Stafford found Cooper Kupp wide open. For Providence, it came in the form of Justin Minaya picking up the rebound and Jared Bynum’s three-point shot with a second to spare. Bynum came up with the game-winning steal too as Providence escaped with a 65-62 victory.
Bynum had 16 off the bench and Durham scored 22 for Providence. Scruggs had 16 while Jack Nunge had 15 and Zach Freemantle had 12 for Xavier. Even though the Musketeers lost, they got their rally for a win four days later. They were down 17 points at the half, but went on a 29-2 run to avoid the upset.
No. 22 Marquette vs. No. 17 Providence (Jan. 30): Streaks vs. Serendipity
Providence is the luckiest team in the country. Marquette is one of the hottest teams in the country. Which storyline would come out on top?
At first glance, it looked like the winning streak would stand strong as Marquette dominated in the first half. Thanks to several missed jumpers, the Golden Eagles kept up with Providence’s defensive style of play. Marquette led by as much as eight, but Providence kept themselves in the game with timely defense. It wasn’t until there was 4:34 left on the clock that Providence regained the lead.
Nate Watson’s dunk with 44 seconds left was the game-winner. Marquette went 1-2 at the line during the following possession and had to foul; the good karma stayed alive 65-63.
Watson scored 17 points on 7-10 shooting while Noah Horchler had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Darryl Morsell picked up 14 for Marquette while Lewis and Tyler Kolek had 13 each. Some of Providence’s luck requires hard work, and although there will be the naysayers and the doubters, the veterans are a big reason as to why Providence is lucky.
Georgetown vs. Butler (Jan. 29): Bulldog Rodeo
Butler won by 14 in their last meeting, which has been the largest margin of victory in their 20 contests. Even though Georgetown was 0-6 in conference play, and Butler recently upset Creighton, this game turned into a classic Bulldog rodeo.
A back-and-forth affair turned into an 11-0 run as Butler took advantage of the Hoyas’ missed shots. Georgetown went a 5-0 run, but Bryce Golden hit a three-pointer with three seconds to go. The second half was more of the same. Butler ballooned their lead to 12, but Georgetown used a 7-0 run to climb right back. Georgetown made it as close as they could, but Butler always had a reply.
That changed when Aminu Mohammed made a layup with 1:24 left. Aaron Thompson responded right back. Georgetown had two chances to do something incredible. Their first chance ended in a turnover by Mohammed. Chuck Harris made two free throws, setting up the Hoyas’ second chance. Donald Carey got a good look in the corner, but his three-point shot just missed, and Butler won the rodeo 56-53.
Simas Lukosius had 13 off the bench while Bryce Nze and Aaron Thompson had 12 each. Mohammed picked up 16 points while Carey had 12 for the Hoyas. With a big home stretch coming up, Butler is in a great position to make some noise. If all goes well, they could be a top six team in the standings.
St. John’s vs. Seton Hall (Jan. 25): The Rematch at Walsh
For the first time since 1985, the Seton Hall Pirates hosted a Big East game inside the Walsh Gymnasium. Their opponent won the last game, and it was the St. John’s Red Storm. The atmosphere had all the memories of classic Big East games, especially with a student’s-only crowd. This was going to be a fun one.
A 20-4 Johnnies run in the first half and a 20-4 Johnnies run in the second half ended this one early. Behind both of those runs, the Red Storm silenced the Walsh crowd and the Pirates 84-63. Posh Alexander had 19 off the bench and Aaron Wheeler had 17 for St. John’s while Myles Cale had 16 and Jared Rhoden had 12 and 12 for the Pirates.
The fire that ignites the Big East will not be dying soon, so don’t think this is goodbye yet. The cold winds of February will throw wrenches into many storylines, and it should be intriguing to see which new ones emerge. As long as we have the Big East, let the competition reign supreme, and let it precipitate.