Big East Baller Update No. 2: Recapping Gavitt Tipoff Games, previewing Feast Week

Creighton students and Blue Crew members, from left, Paige Saluri of Kansas City, Tess Humphrey of Cedar, Minn., and Kathleen Conway of Mesa, Ariz., celebrate a Creighton three pointer scored against Florida A&M during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

Feast Week is here, which means some of the biggest non-conference matchups are here. In this article, we will recap the best games from the past week and preview some of the best games this upcoming week, including Big East teams. First, we will see who received the Big East Player and Freshman of the Week awards.

Player of the Week: Trey Alexander, G, Creighton (21.5 PPG, 8.5 APG, 9 RPG, 47 FG% in 2 games)

It is back-to-back weeks as the Big East Player of the Week for Alexander, who currently leads the Big East with 21 points and 6.5 assists per game. The junior from Oklahoma City nearly had a triple-double in Creighton’s Gavitt Tipoff Game against Iowa, recording 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He has been by far the best player in the conference so far.

Freshman of the Week: Isaiah Coleman, G, Seton Hall (10 PPG, 6 RPG, 1 SPG, 57 FG% in 2 games)

With last week’s recipient Stephon Castle out with a knee injury for the next few weeks, direction turned to Isaiah Coleman, a freshman guard from Fredericksburg, Va. Despite the lack of strength in Seton Hall’s schedule through its first four games, Coleman has become comfortable, shooting an efficient 52.4% from the floor this season. He had a strong outing Wednesday against UAlbany, where he had 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

Tyler Kolek, No. 4 Marquette handle No. 23 Illinois, 71-64

Marquette guard Tyler Kolek (11) drives to the basket as Illinois forward Marcus Domask defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Kolek, the reigning Big East Player of the Year, was questionable coming into Tuesday night’s game against Illinois due to an ankle injury. That did not stop him from playing at a high level, scoring 24 points while bringing down six rebounds and recording four assists. Kam Jones was arguably the best player in the Big East through the first week of college basketball. His prolific scoring continued with 15 points, while trusty big man Oso Ighodaro had 13 points and eight rebounds. Southern Illinois transfer Marcus Domask had 18 points for the Fighting Illini. Head coach Brad Underwood pointed out that it was a matter of time before he had a breakout game. Potential All-American guard Terrence Shannon Jr. led Illinois with 21 points, but it was not enough to give his team the win. Marquette head coach Shaka Smart, the reigning Big East Coach of the Year, said the game reminded him of a late-season battle.

Kansas State squeaks past Providence in OT, 73-70

At the Baha Mar Convention Center in Nassau, Bahamas, Providence and Kansas State fought to survive and advance. That should be taken literally as Providence freshman Garwey Dual and K-State freshman Dai Dai Ames exchanged blows in overtime. There was bad blood throughout the game, but that was when tempers flared the most. Kansas State never trailed in overtime, thanks to a phenomenal performance from the free throw line from Tylor Perry, who went 12-12. Devin Carter, who led the Friars with 19 points, sunk a game-tying free throw to send the game into overtime. All-Big East forward Bryce Hopkins had a double-double but shot an abysmal 2-15 from the floor. Creighton transfer Arthur Kaluma drilled a three-pointer and support in the extra five minutes from David N’Guessan, scoring all six of his points in overtime, helped put the Wildcats over Providence.

Washington advances to Continental Tire Main Event Championship with 74-71 win over Xavier

Xavier is a talented team on paper, even with star forward Zach Freemantle out until at least January. Jet lag must have struck the Musketeers as they fell to Washington, who sealed the game with a clutch jumper from forward Moses Wood, who finished with nine points. Kentucky transfer Keion Brooks Jr. led the way for the Huskies, scoring 20 points and eight rebounds as he continues to show he could be a problem in the Pac-12 this season. Guard Sahvir Wheeler, now at his third school after two years at Georgia and Kentucky, finished with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds. While forward Gytis Nemeiksa led Xavier in scoring with 20 points, guard Desmond Claude has turned out to be the Musketeers’ best player so far. He had 19 points and seven rebounds in the loss. However, he did foul out and shot 35% from the floor.

UCLA vs. No. 4 Marquette (11:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Villanova’s Justin Moore, right, tires to get past Pennsylvania’s George Smith during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

I mentioned this game in the first edition of Big East Baller Update, but the final game of the quarterfinal round in the Maui Invitational is a big battle as the Golden Eagles take on UCLA. There is some familiarity in this matchup, as UCLA head coach Mick Cronin was the head coach at Cincinnati when they shared the Big East with Marquette. The Bruins’ backcourt will look weaker than in years past now that Jaime Jaquez Jr. is gone. It has been forward Adem Bona (18 PPG) leading the way. That may be UCLA’s advantage tonight.

Texas Tech vs. No. 21 Villanova (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN/2)

With Villanova’s brutal loss to Penn, the Wildcats will make the trip to Paradise Island with a 3-1 record. The Wildcats are the more battle-tested team headed into Wednesday afternoon’s matchup with a dominant win against Maryland. Star guard Justin Moore will lead the way as he tries to prove he belongs in the mix as one of the best guards in the Big East conversation. On the other side, Texas Tech has only played buy games, with guard Pop Isaacs leading the way with 11.7 points and 3.3 assists per game.

Seton Hall vs. No. 16 USC (Thursday, 5:30 p.m., FS1)

USC recently lost to UC Irvine at home but still should be taken seriously as they go against Seton Hall in San Diego for the Rady’s Children’s Invitational. USC has a talented backcourt with Isaiah Collier (20 PPG, 4 APG) leading along with Boogie Ellis. On the other hand, Seton Hall has been a one-man show as guard Kadary Richmond leads the team in points, assists and rebounds per game. Southern California will have the advantage, but Richmond and the Pirates can most definitely pull off an upset.

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