Six months does a lot to a Big East fan, especially when everything comes up in more than ones. Not one, not two, but three players transferred to another school in the conference, two of which involved UConn losing a player. Four new coaches entered the Big East, half of which are in their second stint with the team while the third is an alum.
Regardless, it is a new season of Big East basketball. In the Baller Update, I highlight the three biggest non-UConn games that happened this past week in my style while noting some key performances. I have wasted enough of your time, so let us cut right to the chase.
Writer’s Note: Big East Media Day is a cool thing and I would absolutely attend it again.
Player of the Week: Adama Sanogo – UConn
Freshman of the Week: Alex Karaban – UConn
Big East Record: 20-1
Rider vs. Providence (Nov. 8): Broncos Country, let’s Friar
Providence’s luck factor, something that led them to a regular season title and a Sweet 16 appearance last season, never really left. It coincidentally happened to make a big return against a team who shares the same nickname as Russell Wilson’s new franchise.
Rider jumped out to a 14-point lead during the first half and entered the intermission up 10. Behind Ed Croswell and Devin Carter, Providence stormed all the way back and tied the game with 12 minutes and change. Once Clifton Moore scored five unanswered points to give the Friars the lead, the game turned on its head.
Allen Powell tried to etch his name into upset lore, scoring the Broncos’ last seven points. Every bucket or free throw that he made trimmed the lead to a single possession margin, and a ball that went out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining gave Rider one more chance. Powell took the inbounds pass and raced down the court for the winning shot, but he tripped in the Friars’ zone and lost the ball. Providence recovered and survived with a lucky 66-65 win.
Dwight Murray Jr. led the Broncos with 18 points and six rebounds while Powell had 15 points. On the flip side, Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins had 18 points in his Friar debut while Croswell had a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards. Whereas some teams strike fear with their boatloads of talent, Providence relies on a four-leaf clover to figuratively scare opponents into losing a game.
Coppin State vs. Georgetown (Nov. 8): What’s Coppin?
Coppin State entered as one of the worst teams in the country, yet Georgetown, a team that won zero conference games last season and had a 21-game losing streak dating back to 2021, found a way for this game to go into overtime.
The Georgetown Hoyas led by six points early, but the Coppin State Eagles pecked away until a three-pointer from Sam Sessoms gave them the lead. From there, the game became a scrap fight with Georgetown entering halftime up two points. The Hoyas looked to have wrapped this game up with a five-point lead and 25 seconds remaining, but Mike Hood followed a Justin Steers layup with a game-tying, buzzer-beating three-pointer to force overtime.
The Hoyas put the game out of reach with an 8-2 run to start the extra frame. Coppin State made one field goal in the final 30 seconds while scoring six points in the period as Georgetown avoided hitting another gutting low point in their program’s history with a 99-89 win.
Steers dominated off the bench with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Sessoms had a double-double of 16 and 10. Every Hoyas starter scored in double figures, but none shined brighter than former UConn forward Akok Akok, who had 18 points and 12 boards while Duquesne transfer Primo Spears led the team with 28 points on 10-19 shooting. Someone just hopped into a new car at the dealership, it has a knack for playing close games that could become close losses come conference play.
No. 16 Villanova vs. Temple (Nov. 11): Philly Philly
It has been a good fall season in Philadelphia. The Eagles are undefeated, Joel Embiid is the 76ers, the Phillies went to the World Series, the Union almost won the MLS Cup and Villanova somehow did not extend their winning streak to eight games against Temple. Wait, that’s not good.
Everything you need to know happened in the second half, but the Owls led by 13 at one point in the first. The Wildcats recaptured the lead with 10 minutes left, but Temple did not budge. While Khalif Battle had the game of his life (finishing with 21 points off the bench), Damian Dunn became a Broad Street legend as he made the free throws to tie the game and then win it with a second to go after Brandon Slater pushed him off his feet in the lane.
Temple fans got multiple opportunities to celebrate as they rushed the court twice. The first time, there were still .2 seconds left on the clock after Villanova committed a foul. The second time, after Zach Hicks made two free throws, the Owls officially upset the Wildcats at home 68-64.
All I can really say about this is that Villanova, a team without Justin Moore or Cam Whitmore, is now a shell of themselves from their days under Wright. But the season is still young, and I have confidence that Kyle Neptune can get things under control in Philadelphia. However, I will be very concerned if they lose to Michigan State.
With the Gavitt Games against the Big Ten starting tonight, the conference games are only going to get harder. Whether the Big East wins this year’s battle and retains their title is up for debate, but like a Thanksgiving turkey, America’s eyes will have something to feast on in the coming weeks.