Player of the Week
Semaj Christon Xavier nearly let a 12-point second half advantage over Marquette slip away in their Jan. 9 game, but the all-conference point guard made sure the Golden Eagles left Cincinnati with a loss. Christon scored a career-high 28 points in the 86-79 victory and hit two late 3’s to preserve the win as the Musketeers moved to 3-0 in conference play. The sophomore went 8-of-10 from the field, made all three of his 3-point attempts, and went 9-for-10 from the stripe in the win.
Earlier in the week, the Cincinnati native led Xavier to 79-68 win over Butler, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The skilled guard also handed out eight dimes and registered three steals, as the Musketeers have still not lost in the U.S. All three of their losses came in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas in late November.
Cleveland Melvin While DePaul dropped their opening three conference games, the senior ensured that streak wouldn’t hit four on the road at Butler. Against the Bulldogs, Melvin was phenomenal on the offensive end of the floor, finishing the double-overtime contest with a season-high 30 points. The forward shot 10-of-14 from the floor, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc. The Maryland native also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out two assists in the 99-94 win on Jan. 9.
In DePaul’s Big East matchup against Marquette on Jan. 4, Melvin was efficient shooting the ball, going 8-for-15 (53 percent) from the floor and finished with 22 points. The game against the Golden Eagles was another exhibition of the 6’8 Melvin’s range, as he made five of his eight attempts from deep. The senior also finished with 16 points in a 81-62 defeat at the hands of Creighton on Jan. 7.
Davante Gardner Gardner brushed off an unimpressive four-point performance in his team’s blowout 67-49 loss to Creighton on Dec. 31 and was stellar in Marquette’s second and third conference games. Against DePaul on Jan. 4, the senior scored a season-high 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field as the Golden Eagles won 66-56. The forward also grabbed six rebounds and went 10-for-11 from the charity stripe.
On Thursday, Marquette suffered a 86-70 loss at Xavier, but Gardner had yet another efficient night shooting. The preseason All-Big East selection scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting in the Jan. 9 game. He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out two assists. At the end of this week, Gardner is tied for sixth in the Big East in field goal percentage, shooting 55 percent from the field for the year.
[Player: D’Angelo Harrison] St. John’s only played one game in the last week, but it will surely be one that Harrison will like to forget. In a 77-60 loss to Georgetown on Jan. 4, the Big East’s fourth-leading scorer had a terrible night shooting, going 1-for-12 from the field for a season-low four points. It was the first time this season that the guard did not score in double-digits, and comes on the heels of an impressive offensive streak for the junior guard. Prior to the matchup against the Hoyas, the Texas native had scored at least 20 points in five of the Red Storm’s last eight games. He also had three turnovers in the game.
Jakarr Sampson After getting off to a hot start shooting in December, the St. John’s forward has struggled to convert his chances since the latter part of the month. Since the game against Youngstown State on Dec. 21, Sampson has yet to shoot above 43 percent in four games. Despite his impressive 6’9 stature, the sophomore has struggled of late to attack the basket and draw fouls. In his last two games, Sampson attempted no free throws, and finished with a combined 16 points against Xavier and Georgetown. Both games were losses for the Red Storm.
Top Upcoming Big East Games
Jan. 20 : Creighton (13-2) at No. 8 Villanova (14-1) – The Bluejays will face their first ranked opponent of the season when they travel to Philadelphia to take-on the Villanova. The first matchup between the two teams in Creighton’s inaugural season in the Big East will test McDermott’s ability against a stiff defense, as the Wildcats are only allowing opponents to score 65.5 points per contest. The City of Brotherly Love was kind to the senior earlier in the season, as he converted a three-point play against St. Joseph’s with less than five seconds left to lead the Bluejays to a 83-79 win.
Jan. 20 : Marquette (9-7) at Georgetown (10-4) – Both teams entered the year as favorites to win the Big East and this first matchup of the season could send the victor well on their way to the regular-season championship early in 2014. The Golden Eagles and Hoyas split their games last year, with the home team winning each contest. This game will be the beginning of a rough slate of matchups for the Hoyas, as they will travel to Creighton on Jan. 25 before returning home to take on No. 8 Villanova on Jan. 27. With a win over Marquette, John Thompson III’s team would could get the confidence needed to secure victories out of this tough stretch of games.
Jan. 21 : Butler (10-5) at Providence (11-5) – Conference play has gotten off to a difficult start for the Bulldogs in their first season as a member of the Big East. The two-time national finalists suffered a shocking double-overtime loss to conference dweller DePaul at home on Jan. 9, and the face a tough stretch of opponents before facing the Friars for the first time.