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Big East Tourney underway

Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb moves around DePaul's Brandon Young

Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb moves around DePaul's Brandon Young during the first round of the Big East Tournament. (March 6, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Day one of the 2012 Big East Tournament is complete. So what did we learn?

UCONN CAN STILL BRING IT
UConn’s Jeremy Lamb is beyond just being the real deal. The kid can score from just about anywhere and he can pass, too. He had 25 points and five rebounds in UConn’s 81-67 win over DePaul in a Big East first-round game on Tuesday night.

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell certainly agrees with that assessment. “I thought Jeremy Lamb was awfully good in the game from start to finish,” said the coach. “He really kept us at bay in the first half.”

But it wasn’t just all about Lamb. The Huskies got a huge game out of freshman guard Justin Boatwright (19 points, 7 assists) and respectable performances from Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi.

The two biggest keys for Connecticut is getting consistent scoring from Drummond and Oriakhi and hitting its free throws. The Huskies went 11-for-24 from the line. That can’t happen against West Virginia on Wednesday. Drummond and Oriakhi need to put pressure on the Mountaineers front court and the Huskies have to be better from the line.

HARKLESS THE REAL DEAL
Moe Harkless (25 points, 9 rebounds in SJU’s 73-59 loss to Pitt) justified his winning of the Big East Rookie of the Year award. It’s a shame we won’t get to see him in the Big Dance.

“He’s a good player, real skilled,” said Pitt forward Nasir Robinson. “I wanted to make him shoot tough shots.”

Harkless did hit some tough shots and he was incredibly efficient in doing so. The Red Storm’s prized freshman shot 10-for-16 from the field.

SETON HALL LIVES TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY
Seton Hall (20-11) has made itself a nice home on the NCAA bubble the last couple of weeks. While Tuesday night’s 79-47 win over Providence doesn’t guarantee an at-large bid, it guarantees that the Pirates are still in the mix. Seton Hall’s RPI was 56 coming into last night’s game.

With non-conference wins over St. Joseph’s, VCU and Dayton and conference wins over Georgetown and UConn, one more win could be it for Seton Hall.

Pirates coach Ralph Willard thinks his team has done enough.

“Our total body of work is pretty darned good and I think we have two of the better seniors in the country,” said the coach.

Losing at home to Rutgers and on the road against DePaul the last two games of the regular season certainly didn’t help the Pirates. But Willard still thinks his team is NCAA-worthy.

“The last two games before this game we played a tough rival,” he said. “And then the other night at DePaul they player real well and we just struggled. The overall body of work, I think, is pretty good.”

VILLANOVA STILL FIGHTING
Villanova will live to fight another day after knocking off No.11 Rutgers, 70-49, in the final game of the night. Truth be told, neither team will be playing in any of the major the post season tournaments (NCAA or NIT). Assuming the Wildcats don’t run the table, their streak of consecutive NCAA appearance will be halted at seven.

WEDNESDAY’S MATCHUPS

No.9 UConn vs. No.8 West Virginia, Noon
No.5 Georgetown vs. No. 13 Pitt, 2:30
No.10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Louisville, 7:00
No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 6 South Florida, 9:30

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