Big East Notebook

Orange squeezed by Nova

The Big East lost its last unbeaten team in conference play Saturday, as unranked Villanova stunned Syracuse in overtime, 75-71.

The third-ranked Orange couldn’t pull out a win in hostile territory, as the rabid Wildcat fans stormed the court following the unprecedented home victory.

Just last Tuesday, the Wildcats had knocked off No. 5 Louisville, 73-64, and on Saturday they became the first unranked team this season to beat two top-10s in one season.

Down 61-58 with 25 seconds left, Ryan Arcidiacono missed a three, but after Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams missed the front end of a one-and-one, Arcidiacono got the chance to redeem himself. Mouphtaou Yarou rebounded Nova teammate James Bell’s three and kicked it to Arcidiacono. The freshman guard buried a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, a layup from Bell gave the Wildcats a 71-68 lead, which they were able to maintain from the free-throw line to seal the win.

While Syracuse still owns the top spot in the Big East, Marquette is now tied with the Orange after beating USF Monday.

Cards continue free fall

Louisville was dethroned from the No. 1 spot in the nation by Syracuse last week, and now the Cardinals have fallen even further from their perch. Louisville suffered two road losses to drop to 12th in the polls.

Villanova ran past the Cards 73-64 Tuesday, and Georgetown survived a Louisville comeback attempt Saturday to eek out a 53-51 win. The free fall has Louisville on the verge of its worst losing streak in nine years.

Louisville didn’t handle the ball well in either of the losses, turning it over 17 times against the Wildcats and 13 against the Hoyas.

Poor shooting has also plagued a usually sound squad on offense. The Cards knocked down just 37.5 percent of their shots in both losses combined, and Russ Smith, the team’s leader in scoring, played well below his average of 18.4 points per game. Smith scored just 20 points combined in the losses.

The Louisville offense was particularly poor in the Georgetown loss. Peyton Siva was held scoreless for the first time since his freshman season.

Louisville did redeem themselves Monday however, beating Pittsburgh 64-61 at home.

Player of the Week

Darrun Hilliard – sophomore guard, Villanova

Many people may not have heard of him coming into this week, but the sophomore was a key piece to both of Nova’s big upsets. Hilliard scored 11 points in the 73-64 win over Louisville and then exploded for 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Cats to the 75-71 win over Syracuse. He played well above his average of 10.8 points per game and will likely make a big difference going forward for Nova.

Game of the Week

Villanova at Notre Dame – Wednesday, 5 p.m., South Bend, Ind.

This will be a make-or-break game for both teams involved. For Nova, it’s a chance to continue an improbable hot streak against a tough road opponent. For the Irish, it’s a statement of Big East strength. A win would keep Notre Dame within two games of the conference lead and keep it rolling after a 73-65 win against South Florida on Saturday.

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