Connecticut

Connecticut’s week started off with its fifth-straight loss – against DePaul (13-10, 4-5) – falling 66-58 at All State Arena. After both teams got off to a slow start, DePaul went on to a seven-point halftime lead.

After intermission, the Blue Demons went on to build on a 20-point lead, and then saw it shrink to seven after a furious Connecticut rally with two minutes to go. Junior guard Draelon Burns led DePaul with a career-high 26 points, while freshman guard Jerome Dyson led the Huskies’ effort with 16 of his own. The game saw sophomore guards Marcus Johnson and Craig Austrie return to the starting lineup as the Huskies tried to shuffle their formations.

The Huskies finished the week by snapping their streak, winning against Rutgers, 61-50, at the Hartford Civic Center. The game went into overtime after Connecticut blew a seven-point lead with less than a minute to go.

The Huskies went on to make 14-of-16 free throws in the extra period to squeeze out the win against the struggling Scarlet Knights (9-14, 2-8). Sophomore forward Jeff Adrien led Connecticut with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Rutgers’ Jaron Griffin finished with 18 points. The much-needed win puts the Huskies (15-8, 4-6) back on the right track as they look to make a late season run.

Connecticut knocked off Syracuse (16-8, 5-5) 67-60 on Monday night. The Huskies had five players in double-figures in the contest.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame (18-5, 6-4) fell from the ranks of the AP poll this week, but managed to stay ranked in the coaches’ poll, clinging to the 21st spot. They are currently in sixth place in the Big East after suffering a loss to South Florida. The Fighting Irish are 6-4 in the conference while the lowly Bulls are 3-6.

Louisville

The Cardinals (16-7, 6-3) began the week right where they left off last week, beating the Cincinnati Bearcats 69-53 on the road. David Padgett was a force to be reckoned with, as he dominated the smaller Bearcats’ front line on both ends of the court, ending the night with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Louisville started off with an 11-0 run, but their lead was cut to 21-19 as they failed to capitalize on open jumpers created by Padgett’s dominance down low. The Cards closed out the half on a 12-0 run after their shots finally began to drop, and they cruised throughout the rest of the game. Forward Marvin Gentry led Cincinnati (10-11, 1-6), who continued their free fall towards the bottom of the league.

Louisville ended the week with a 57-53 loss against the Villanova Wildcats, snapping their four-game winning streak. All of Louisville’s top scorers failed to reach double-digit numbers and struggled to get going offensively. Despite their offensive struggles, the Cards stayed close in the game until a couple of three pointers gave Villanova (15-7 4-5) a seven-point lead they would not relinquish. Shane Clark had 12 points for the Wildcats and Earl Clark led the Cards with 14. Louisville (15-7, 6-3) will look to regroup for their game against the Georgetown Hoyas on Feb. 7.

Villanova

Villanova improved to 15-7 on the season with a win at home versus Louisville 57-53. Villanova is in a solid position to make the Big East Tournament, currently in ninth place. Villanova’s next game is against rival St. Joseph’s. It should be a tough game that will help ready the Wildcats for a brutal Big East stretch that includes games against Seton Hall, arquette and Georgetown.

South Florida

Coming off a devastating last-second loss to Marquette, South Florida (12-11, 3-6) rebounded with a shocking upset over 21st ranked Notre Dame, 69-63. The students at the Sun Dome stormed the court after watching the Bulls defeat their first ranked team this season.

The Bulls took a double-digit lead midway through the second half before nearly blowing it at the end. The Irish then stormed back to take a three-point lead with just under eight minutes left. A layup by forward McHugh Mattis gave South Florida the lead for good with just over five minutes left. Mattis had a career night with 23 points and 16 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.

The Irish had beaten the Bulls with ease two weeks ago on their home court in South Bend, but this matchup was much more of a challenge. Notre Dame sorely missed the inside presence of injured center Rob Kurtz, who played only 19 minutes and was held scoreless.

Senior guard Colin Falls was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points, but it was not enough to prevent a Notre Dame loss and subsequent drop from the AP Top 25. The victory gave South Florida a winning record at home against teams in the Big East. The Bulls are now tied with Connecticut and Seton Hall for 12th place in the conference. Their marked improvement this year could land them in their first-ever Big East Tournament, as long as they stay out of the bottom four.

Marquette

On the day Marquette (20-4, 7-2) honored one of their greats – Dwyane Wade – the Golden Eagles beat the Providence Friars 69-62 en route to their seventh straight conference win. The last time Marquette won seven in a row in their conference was Wade’s senior season in 2003. However, that conference was Conference USA and this is the Big East. The Golden Eagles are in second in the Big East and 11th in the nation.

Marquette out-rebounded Providence 42-29 and had three players in double figures, and they never trailing in the contest. Sophomore guard Jerel McNeal led the way with 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Junior forward Dan Fitzgerald canned four three-points and gave the Golden Eagles 14 points off the bench, and sophomore guard Wesley Matthews was a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe to finish with 12 points.

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