Defending national champion the University of Connecticut, the University of Pittsburgh, Seton Hall University and Villanova University advanced to the second round of the Big East Conference men’s basketball tournament.
Connecticut beat DePaul University 81-67, Pittsburgh won 73-59 against St. John’s, Seton Hall beat Providence 79-47 and Villanova topped Rutgers 70-49 yesterday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Jeremy Lamb had 25 points and Ryan Boatright had 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Huskies (19-12) who are seeking an invitation to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, where they won the title last year.
“I think today we moved the ball well,” Lamb said. “Early I had a couple open shots. I tried to set my man up and our big men had great screens so I was able to knock a couple down.”
Connecticut took a 46-33 lead into halftime and extended the advantage to 24 points before DePaul closed within nine with about seven minutes remaining.
The Huskies, 9-10 in the conference, take on eighth-seeded West Virginia today in the second round.
Connecticut is seeded ninth in the tournament, the same position the Storrs, Connecticut, school found itself in last year before winning five straight games to take the conference championship. The Huskies went on to win the national title with a 53-41 win against Butler.
DePaul (12-19), seeded 16th, was led in scoring by Cleveland Melvin and Moses Morgan, with 19 points each.
Pitt Faces Georgetown
Ashton Gibbs scored 20 points for the Pittsburgh Panthers, and Seton Hall got 16 points each from Herb Pope and Brandon Mobley.
Pittsburgh (17-15), the No. 13 seed, will face fifth-seeded Georgetown in the second round. With a 6-13 record in the Big East, the Panthers will need to win the tournament to qualify for an 11th straight NCAA tournament.
“I think we’ve gotten better the last couple of weeks and it’s a good sign as we go forward here,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’ve got to defend and I think we did that today and we’ll continue to do that as we go forward tomorrow.”
St. John’s, paced by 25 points from Moe Harkless, finished its season with a 13-19 record.
Seton Hall (20-11), the No. 10 seed, next will face seventh-seeded Louisville after its win against No. 15 Providence (15-17), which got 14 points from LaDontae Henton.
Maalik Wayns had 28 points for Villanova (13-18), which overcame a 34-30 halftime deficit to advance to today’s game against South Florida. Eli Carter had 23 points for Rutgers (14-18).
The tournament final is March 10.