Player of the Week
Julian Champagnie (Saint John’s)
After being selected for the Big East All-Freshman Team, Champagnie has elevated his game to becoming the current leading scorer in the Big East this season. He is averaging 21 points per game and is coming off his career high 33 points against Creighton. He’s leading his team in rebounds at 7.9 rebounds a game. Standing at 6’8, Champagnie makes a great prospect for the NBA being able to hit the three from deep and being able to finish around the rim. If he continues to play like he is this season he could easily become a first-round draft pick.
Joining the Big East this season, UConn is proving to be one of the top teams in the conference. They are now 3-1 in conference play but should be 4-0 after giving up a win against Creighton in overtime. UConn is led by star guard James Bouknight who is averaging 20.3 points per game. Bouknight suffered an elbow injury against Marquette and he didn’t play in UConn’s most recent game against Butler. That didn’t seem to matter since they won that matchup by 10. Senior forward Tyler Polley has been providing UConn with a spark off the bench having 23 and 19 points in their last two games.
Denzel Mahoney (Creighton)
Creighton played their last game against Saint John’s without Marcus Zegarowski. This gave Mahoney the chance to step up offensively for the Bluejays. He led the team in scoring with 24 points against Saint John’s. Mahoney leads Creighton in scoring, but he doesn’t get the credit he deserves on the defensive side of the ball. He typically guards the opposing team’s best player and he does a great job leading the team on defense. Creighton’s defense overall as a collective group is improving this season holding Seton Hall to only 53 points.
The Pirates offense has been inefficient lately shooting 23% from the three and averaging 63 points per game in their last three games. In their first 11 games they averaged 77 points per game. Fortunately for Seton Hall they have many players who can put the ball in the basket, so all it takes is for one player to go off to fuel the others. If Seton Hall wants to contend for the Big East title this season, they’ll have to get their offense back to how it was two weeks ago.
The Red Storm is ranked 9th in the Big East and has lost two straight after dealing with two game postponements from COVID-19 difficulties. The biggest problem with Saint John’s is their defense. They are allowing 81 points per game, tied for the worst in the Big East. The only thing that keeps them in games is their playstyle. They love getting in track meets by quickly moving the ball down the court. Their offensive tempo speeds their opposing teams up and results in high scoring games in all of their matchups.
Top Five Big East games of this season so far
#5 Creighton vs Providence January 2nd
This game featured two top Big East teams in a defensive battle. The first half was close until Creighton pulled away with an 8-0 run led by two threes from Mitch Ballock. Providence was down 12 with six minutes left in the game and it seemed Creighton was going to win easily. Providence was able to claw their way back into the game by scoring a layup from a Creighton turnover. This crazy comeback came to an end when Christian Bishop made an easy game winning dunk.
Final: Creighton 67, Providence 65
#4 Seton Hall vs Providence December 20th
This overtime thriller featured short bursts of runs on both sides of the ball. Seton hall was able to force overtime from a ferocious and-one dunk from Sandro Mamukelashvili. In overtime the final three minutes featured great defense from both teams. In the end A.J. Reeves came down and hit a three to win the game.
Final: Providence 80, Seton Hall 77
#3 Xavier vs Providence January 10th
This game was a one possession game almost the entire time until the final three minutes. David Duke scored 30 points, but this wasn’t enough for the Friars. Providence hit two back-to-back threes that gave them a seven-point lead with 1 minute and 13 seconds on the clock. Xavier was then able to get stops on defense and hit their final three shots to win the game. Yet again another game winning bucket from Xavier this season, this time it came from Colby Jones.
Final: Xavier 74, Providence 73
#2 Xavier vs Marquette December 20th
December 20th was by far the craziest day of Big East basketball this season with three games decided by one possession and all three made this list. This game was high scoring and entertaining. Marquette’s starters all scored double figures and Paul Scruggs had 29 points for the Musketeers. Xavier’s second leading scorer was Adam Kunkel who had 22 points off the bench. Kunkel hit a wild step back three to win the game for Xavier. ONIONS!
Final: Xavier 91, Marquette 88
#1 Creighton vs UConn December 20th
Considering how poorly they played, Creighton was able to overcome adversary and win this game in overtime. James Bouknight scored a career high 40 points for UConn. Even though Bouknight was electric the entire game UConn was unable to pull off the win. Creighton has R.J Cole to thank since he missed two free throws at the end of the game, which would have clinched the win for UConn. He was 100% from the free throw line before this game. Big East basketball at its best.