Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)
No. 6 Marquette beats Butler to clinch Big East outright
Tyler Kolek had 21 points and 10 assists, and No. 6 Marquette clinched its first outright Big East championship by beating Butler 72-56 on Tuesday night.
The victory was the fifth in a row and 10th in 11 games for the surprising Golden Eagles (24-6, 16-3), picked ninth by the league’s coaches in the preseason poll.
This week, Marquette ascended to its highest ranking in the AP Top 25 since it was No. 1 in 1978.
Marquette, which had already secured a share of its first Big East title since 2013, had not won an outright regular-season crown since doing so in Conference USA in 2003.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 14 points and Oso Ighodaro had 12 for the Golden Eagles, who will be the top seed in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden — an event Marquette has never won.
The Golden Eagles will open in the quarterfinals March 9 against the winner of a first-round game between Butler and St. John’s.
Marquette joined the Big East for the 2005-06 season, and that shared title with Georgetown and Louisville in 2013 was the only previous Big East title for the Golden Eagles.
This also marks the first regular-season conference championship for Shaka Smart in his 14 years as a Division I head coach. Smart is in his second season at
Marquette after spending six each at VCU and Texas.
In the second half, the Golden Eagles shot 65% (15 of 23) from the floor and led by as many as 24 points.
Jayden Taylor scored 13 and Jalen Thomas had 10 for Butler (14-16, 6-13), which finished 4-6 in Big East home games.
Villanova 76, Seton Hall 72
NEWARK, N.J. >> Justin Moore led Villanova with 23 points and Eric Dixon secured the victory with a free throw with 43 seconds left as the Wildcats defeated Seton Hall 76-72 on Tuesday night.
Moore was 6-of-10 shooting, including 2 for 5 from distance, and went 9 for 9 from the foul line for the Wildcats (16-14, 10-9 Big East Conference). Cam Whitmore scored 19 points and added five rebounds. Dixon shot 4 for 7 (1 for 3 from 3-point range) and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line to finish with 18 points.
Al-Amir Dawes led the way for the Pirates (16-14, 9-10) with 21 points and four assists. Seton Hall also got 14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals from Femi Odukale. Tyrese Samuel also put up 14 points and three steals.
Whitmore scored 11 points in the first half and Villanova went into halftime trailing 37-34. Moore scored 14 points in the second half. Villanova outscored Seton Hall by seven points over the final half.