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Big East Tournament Live Blog: Thursday

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

Matt St. Jean and Tommy Godin will add their live thoughts from the tournament all day, so check back here for updates!



 

Tommy Godin: Gooooooood morningggg New York! I am in the building awaiting Matt St. Jean to join me, and let me tell you, there is an eerie "calm before the storm" vibe going on right now. I was just walking through Penn Station a couple floors below, and the lobbies were flooded with Xavier, Creighton, Providence and UConn fans sporting their teams colors. The only people more excited than myself are the local bar owners who are about to have a heckuva Thursday. -10:24am

 

Tommy Godin: We are about fifteen minutes away from tip and there is a much more palpable buzz in here today than there was for the first game yesterday. There are eight teams competing today who all believe they have a chance to cut down the nets on Saturday night. There is a beautiful sea of red and blue flooding the seats as we speak. Still no sign of Matt St. Jean. Can someone check on him? -11:46am

 

Matt St. Jean: I'm here! Was getting myself some chicken and waffles in the back. Ready to get today started. Thursday of the Big East Tournament is one of my favorite days of the year, with back-to-back-to-back-to-back Big East games. This should be fun. Up first: St. John's and Marquette. I'm watching the battles for loose balls in this one. If St. John's can force turnovers and win on the glass, I think the Red Storm can make this interesting. If Marquette's offense operates the way it has, though, the Golden Eagles should be advancing. -12:00pm

 

Tommy Godin: We are about halfway through the first half and we got a fun one brewing at The Garden. Although this is St. John's home floor, the crowd around us is overwhelming pro-Marquette. This game feels a lot like Marquette is in cruise control, but with that David Jones layup, it is actually the Johnnies who have the lead. Let's see if they can keep it up. -12:32pm

 

Matt St. Jean: This is a stunning first half. St. John's has pushed the lead to double-digits, and Marquette has no answers on offense. The Red Storm defense is harassing Marquette's ball-handlers at every turn. St. John's has an advantage on the glass and in transition, and the guys are making the shots to take advantage. St. John's blew a 17-point lead on Thursday last year, so nothing is safe. But the Red Storm have a real shot to play on Friday for the first time since 2000. -12:50pm

 

Tommy Godin: Halftime. Woah. Marquette is finding out fast that playing on Thursday early afternoon against a hungry home team is a tall task. St. John's used a 16-2 run over the course over six minutes to propel them to their ten point halftime advantage. The biggest surprise of the half for Marquette has to be BIG EAST Player of the Year Tyler Kolek's halftime statline:

Yikes. Surely, that will change, and, as Matt mentioned above, no lead is safe with the Johnnies on Thursday. Marquette will have their work cut out for them in the second half, but they have the talent and discipline to overcome this deficit and move on to Friday at The Garden. -1:01pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Whatever Shaka Smart said at halftime worked. It's a 5-0 run out of the break for the Golden Eagles who have cut the deficit in half. Their energy level is noticeably up, and they're getting up in the face of St. John's on defense. -1:22pm

 

Tommy Godin: Weeeeeee got ourselves a game ladies and gentlemen! Joel Soriano is playing like a man that does NOT want to go home, Posh Alexander has connected from beyond the arc, and Kolby King has stepped up big time. For Marquette, they came out of the break on a mission. St. John's has stormed back in front and taken a five point lead, but this game is faaaaar from over. -1:37pm

 

Matt St. Jean: This one is going to come down to the very end. Tyler Kolek has played fantastic basketball here in the second half, scoring all 12 of his points since the break. The Marquette defense has started to lock down, too. It's a one-point lead for the Golden Eagles with six and change remaining. Should be electric down the stretch. And this place is really starting to fill up. -1:48pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Now THAT is Big East basketball. Just like last year's Thursday afternoon game, the No. 1 seed got brought down to the wire but eventually prevailed. That was a tremendous effort from St. John's, but not quite enough to get it done. Posh Alexander's shot in overtime came up short, and Marquette will play on Friday. Now it's time for Providence and UConn. This building is buzzing. -2:38pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Changes to both starting lineups for Providence and UConn. Ed Cooley has Jared Bynum coming off the bench with Breed in the starting lineup. Dan Hurley has Hassan Diarra in over Tristen Newton for the Huskies. Just about ready to go here. -3:03pm

 

Tommy Godin: (Bruce Buffer voice) *taps mic* It's timeeee for the maaaaain event of the evening. Am I a little late? Oh well, sorry I was at the previous game's press conference, and I will have quotes out as soon as the conference transcribes them officially. I've been saying all week that the stars are out in the big apple, and none may be brighter than James Breeding on the whistle for this one. The environment in here is just different, this one is going to be amazing. -3:23pm

 

Tommy Godin: 21-13 Huskies with 6:43 to go in the first half and what an atmosphere it is here inside The Garden. It looks like Joey Calcaterra and Ed Cooley have been going back and forth, as well as Dan Hurley's never-ending beef with whatever referee is on the whistle. The Friars are 1-8 from deep and so far, so look for Noah Locke to have some plays drawn up for him in the coming sets. -3:33pm

 

Tommy Godin: Andre Jackson just makes winning plays. That's it, that's the entry. -3:41pm

 

Tommy Godin: Hey, sorry to take us away from this UConn Providence game, but the transcribed email just came in from the St. John's and Marquette press conference and here's what I got:


St. John’s:


Mike Anderson: “I don't think they were similar. I think it was Big East basketball, quarterfinals.They're a different team, different type of team.But at the same time, you know, I always talk about the game being 40 minutes, not 20 minutes. And let's give them credit.” on the similarities between today’s loss and last years loss to Villanova


“If there's an opportunity, our guys want to play. I'm sure our guys will want to play” on if he hopes to be invited to the NIT


“I just said yes, without a doubt. I look forward to this team, guys” on if he hopes to be back with the team next year


Marquette:


OMax Prosper: “I feel like it's our resiliency. That's what we're about. Doesn't matter how down we are or whatever, we feel like we come back and win any game. That's our relationships, the way we feel about each other and how connected we are.That's how we came out in the second half. We came out with that belief and that energy. And that's how we were able to come back and win this game.” on what it says about the team as a whole to fight through a deficit


Tyler Kolek: “I think coming into the postseason we're as prepared as we can be. Doesn't matter if we're the youngest team on paper, I think we're one of the most prepared teams in the country.” on being the third youngest team in the field of 68


Shaka Smart:”It says a lot. We faced a lot of adversity today, and the guys stared down the adversity. They stayed connected. They continued to respond, focus on the next most important thing.” on what about this group to be able to win this way as opposed to winning a high-scoring game?


“Our guys were great. They communicated with each other. I think we had a couple of guys that don't even get in the game kind of went off, which is good, from a leadership standpoint. We knew that it was one of our worst halves. And we knew that we had to lead with the defensive end of the floor. And the way that these guys, plus Stevie, plus Cam and owe so started the first half was terrific. And I thought Chase Ross gave us a huge lift as a freshman coming in here playing with great poise. When this group here has clarity about us and really plays through being connected with each other, we can play with anyone in the country. We got away from that early on but we got that back and that's what allowed us to win.” on what it was like in the halftime locker room.


Here is a neat picture of the Marquette guys getting interviewed post-game. Anyways, back to your regularly scheduled programming. -4:15pm


 

Matt St. Jean: This is a big yikes for Providence. The Friars are on pace to lose four out of five heading into Selection Sunday. Providence got out-toughed by a UConn team that came out firing on all cylinders. UConn is dominating in the paint, and the Friars can't get anything to fall from the outside to make up for it. -4:30pm

 

Tommy Godin: Providence made their run and it looks like it just may not be enough to matter. The lead is 15 for the Huskies and the Friars will have to surmount that and the clock. For UConn, their offense took advantage of a Providence defense that was sleep walking into the tournament. No joke, as I have been typing this Providence has gone on a 6-0 run. I'm going to retain some of my thoughts for later, lets just see how this one turns out. -4:49pm

 

Tommy Godin: WHAT IS GOING ON?! WE GOT A FIVE POINT GAME IN NEW YORK CITY. THIS BUILDING IS LOUD. CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH HOW LOUD IT IS. 3:33 LEFT IN REGULATIONS. CAPS LOCK TO REMAIN ON. BUCKLE UP, ITS GO TIME. -4:57PM

 

Matt St. Jean: I needed a while to come down from that. Boy, did that live up the billing. After 28 minutes of perfect basketball, UConn returned to the fouls and turnovers that cost the team in January. Providence took advantage, storming back to pull within two possessions. Ed Cooley said after the loss that he is sure his team will be in the bracket on Sunday, and he seemed encouraged with the fight the Friars showed late in the game. For UConn, it sets up a date with Marquette tomorrow evening. Get your popcorn for that one


Next up: Xavier and DePaul. The teams are on the floor warming up as the staff turns the building over for the late session. -6:12pm

 

Matt St. Jean: They just had the DePaul and Xavier intro videos up on the scoreboard before we get underway. Impressed by both. I love the way both clearly illustrate a brand. Good stuff.


Anyway, we're just about at tip-off, and the arena is only about half full. That will change as we get closer to the late night matchup. After the chaos of the early window, this is subdued by comparison. -6:58pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Through eight minutes and change of this one, you'd have no idea Xavier was the team favored. DePaul's offense has gotten whatever it;s wanted, and DePaul's defense is doing a very good job of staying in front of Xavier's guards. No easy driving lanes for the Musketeers. The Blue Demons have built a nine-point lead early. We'll see if it holds. If Xavier doesn't wake up, DePaul might just make it to Friday. -7:24pm

 

Tommy Godin: I have to give Xavier fans credit, they travel well and they are one of, if not THE most energetic student section that has been by us all day. Unfortunately for the Musketeers, the players on the floor aren't quite matching the energy in the stands. There is a lot of game left, but the Blue Demons are playing like they don't want to go home. -7:31pm

 

Tommy Godin: Wanna know how this game is going in a nutshell? Friend of the brand Paul Fritschner sums it up beautifully in one tweet:

-7:45(ish. Idk lost track)

 

Matt St. Jean: Things I never thought I'd type: DePaul's unstoppable offense has the Blue Demons twenty minutes away from their first Big East Tournament semifinal appearance. The Blue Demons hold a nine-point lead over second-place Xavier at the break. St. John's was unable to hold on to pull off an upset earlier over Marquette. We'll see if DePaul suffers the same fate. -8:01pm

 

Tommy Godin: I have had far too much coffee today and I am AMPED UP for the ending of this one. DePaul holds a ten point lead, but Xavier holds more than enough offensive firepower to overcome that deficit in much less than 13:46. This is the best conference in all of college basketball. -8:34

 

Matt St. Jean: Xavier has made it a close game a couple times here in the second half, but DePaul has answered the bell every time. The bounces are not going Xavier's way tonight, that's for sure. DePaul could really do this. Also, that alley-oop to Nick Ongenda was sick. -8:53pm

 

Tommy Godin: Here come the Musketeers. We've got a five point game brewing at the garden with five minutes and change to go. I gotta imagine there are a lot of worried folks out in Chicago just waiting for the clock to hit zero. -9:00pm

 

Matt St. Jean: DePaul's lead of 14 points did not matter. In a day of comebacks, Xavier took the lead late and held on to get the win. The Musketeers have their first Big East Tournament win since 2019 and a spot at MSG on Friday.


Next up: a rematch of last year's Big East Championship. -9:22pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Sean Miller was super happy for his guys that they'll get to experience semifinal Friday after the win, and he was very aware of how lucky the Musketeers are to have advanced. Miller mentioned that they had to "overcome our defense in a big way tonight," and he was impressed with the offensive effort from DePaul.


We also got a light moment with Miller jokingly pointing out that Colby Jones had half of his team's turnovers when discussing how they managed to limit them. After getting a laugh from the room, Miller remarked that he needed to keep Jones humble. The chemistry of that group is readily apparent.


Meanwhile, DePaul begins to look forward to next season. Tony Stubblefield is not satisfied with this season, but he thought they did finish the year strong. "We've got to build upon this and take it to the next level," he said was his goal for next year. -10:05pm

 

Tommy Godin: Stop me if you've heard this before, but Villanova is off to another extremely slow start. The offense is stagnant, the ball is not moving, and closeouts are hard to come by. Creighton has opened up a twelve point advantage and this one could get ugly in a hurry if the Wildcats are not careful. -10:21pm

 

Tommy Godin: Wow. In what has been an extremely well called tournament, Brian O'Connell and his crew have left much to be desired in this one (on both ends). Nevertheless, Creighton looked much like the team that was picked to win the conference in the preseason.


The Bluejays have connected on 43.3% of the shots they have taken from the field and have limited the Wildcats to just 23 first half points. KenPom's number one ranked defensive team in the conference is putting on a clinic on that end of the floor.


The second half is going to be a roller coaster as everyone in the sold out arena knows Villanova has one more run in them. Will it be enough? -10:38pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Creighton lost to Villanova in their last meeting. Creighton lost to Villanova in last year's Big East Championship. The Bluejays are playing like they remember both of those games very well. They're out for revenge. The lead is up to double-digits early in the second half. -10:59pm

 

Tommy Godin: And THAT is the impact Baylor Scheierman can have for your team. All preseason it was widely regarded that the addition of Scheierman was one of the best transfer portal bolsters in the entire country, and that is exactly what they mean. Creighton has opened a sixteen point advantage and this one feels over. -11:05pm

 

Matt St. Jean: After watching Villanova own this building for a decade, it's a strange sight to see the Wildcats slowly fade as the game goes on. Especially with the three comeback bids we've seen today, it's hard not to expect the team from the Main Line to make a push. We'll see if it comes in the final five minutes. -11:32pm

 

Matt St. Jean: And of course, after I publish the obituary, Villanova makes an 11-0 run to come roaring back. Not done yet. -11:37pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Now it's over. Ryan Kalkbrenner's and-one put the Bluejays back on top by 14 with just over two minutes remaining, and that was it for the Wildcats. We'll see if Villanova heads to the NIT, which would make for some fun basketball. Creighton will get Xavier tomorrow. Somehow, after all the madness today, the Big East Tournament went chalk. It'll be the top four seeds battling it out on an epic semifinal Friday. What more could you ask for? -11:50pm

 

Matt St. Jean: Signing off after a long Thursday. Here are our final thoughts on the day. -1:25am


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