Men’s Big East Notebook

After a relatively pedestrian start to the week, South Florida highlighted a wild weekend in the Big East with a shocking 70-61 upset victory at home against Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon. Junior point guard Dominique Jones scored a whopping 37 points to lead the Bulls against the Panthers. South Florida vaulted into a tie for eighth place with its third consecutive win.

Before this week, South Florida hadn’t even won two consecutive conference games since joining the Big East, let alone three straight. That changed when the Bulls beat Seton Hall in overtime Thursday night.

Both Jones and Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell finished with 28 points, but the Bulls came away with the victory thanks to a 15-point, 14-rebound performance from forward Jarrid Famous. The win was South Florida’s first ever over Seton Hall after being defeated seven times previously.

Five league games decided by four points or less highlight wild Saturday

Every Saturday in the Big East seems to be full of great performances and drama, and this Saturday was no different.

In a pair of early games, Marquette won at Connecticut, 70-68, and West Virginia rallied for a 77-74 victory against Louisville at home.

In Morgantown, the Mountaineers used a career-high 27-point effort from Da’Sean Butler, which included the go-ahead basket with 16 seconds left. West Virginia rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half.

Rutgers picked up its first Big East win of the season by knocking off visiting Notre Dame, 74-73. All five Scarlet Knight starters reached double figures, with guard Mike Rosario turning in a game-high 24 points. Center Hamady Ndiaye blocked six shots, including two in the final minute.

In Cincinnati, guard Cashmere Wright’s return to the starting lineup produced a career-high 24 points to hold off Providence, 92-88. The Friars’ Sharaud Curry finished with 27 points. Providence’s loss was certainly a letdown after it surprised Connecticut with an 81-66 victory at home.

Two games to watch

Cincinnati at Notre Dame, Thursday, Jan. 4

Two teams jockeying for position in the Big East square off Thursday night in South Bend, Ind. The Bearcats improved to 5-4 in conference play and are coming off a gutty victory over Providence Saturday night. The Irish need a victory after suffering a tough loss on the road to Rutgers Saturday and are looking to avenge a 60-58 loss to Cincinnati earlier this season.

No. 2 Villanova at No. 8 Georgetown, Saturday, Jan. 6

Villanova must first take care of Seton Hall tonight, but the team enters the week a perfect 8-0 in conference play and 19-1 overall, with the lone loss coming to Temple early in the season. The Hoyas will take on South Florida at home Wednesday night but begin the week two and a half games behind Villanova in conference play at 6-3.

Player of the week

Who else but Dominique Jones? The junior guard simply did not allow his team to lose against Pittsburgh. Not only did he score 37 in the game, he also ripped down eight rebounds and was 14-for-17 from the free throw line. He also willed his team to a hard-fought victory over Seton Hall with 28 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

Points per game: 22.1

Rebounds per game: 6.1

Assists per game: 4.2

Field goal percentage: 49.7

3 point percentage: 37.0

Steals per game: 1.9