Syracuse keyed on Eric Murdock, so Providence's Marques Bragg, knowing his family was in the stands, stepped forward with 21 points last night as the host Friars left the No. 6 Orangemen behind.
"I just wanted to help Eric out," Bragg said after Providence's 92-82 victory. "I did need this game to get my confidence back and start playing like I'm used to playing."
Friars fans mobbed the team as the buzzer sounded on Providence's first victory ever in conference play over Syracuse at the Civic Center. Providence (12-7, 3-5) has won only three times in 26 matchups against Syracuse (17-3, 5-3).
Murdock scored a team-leading 23 to lead five Providence players in double figures. But the 6-foot-7 Bragg led the charge underneath, with 11 rebounds and numerous layups.
Providence dominated the boards, 47-34, despite 14 rebounds and five blocked shots for Syracuse's 6-10 center LeRon Ellis.
"We needed a great team effort, and I think it's going to build up their confidence knowing they don't have to rely on Eric Murdock," Murdock said.
Providence exploded to a 19-point lead in the second half with 15:31 left.
"We kept our poise," Providence Coach Rick Barnes said. "I'm happy because tonight, some guys who needed to have a good night had one."
Seton Hall 76, Connecticut 62: In East Rutherford, N.J., the Pirates, who play their next four games on the road, beat the No. 19 Huskies. The loss was Connecticut's fifth consecutive, and one that seemed to magnify its recent problems.
"This game was one we both wanted and needed," Seton Hall Coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We knew they'd be after us and, with our next four games on the road, we had to get this one. We responded with a great, great effort and this was way better for us to play than I expected."
The Pirates (13-4, 5-3) outscored Connecticut (12-6, 3-5) 23-6 over the final 10 minutes of the first half of their Big East game. The Huskies were held scoreless over the final five minutes before the intermission.
"I am as disappointed as I can be over the way we played," said Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun. "We lost it by going down 17 points with missed layups, bad shots and we didn't pass the ball. It was a complete breakdown."
Seton Hall had to withstand one rally in the second half and then held on.
The Pirates led 40-23 at halftime, and the closest Connecticut was able to get was 48-41 with 12:49 to play.
St. John's 58, Villanova 55: In Philadelphia, Jason Buchanan scored on a fadeaway jumper with 16 seconds remaining to lift the No. 10 Redmen (15-2, 6-2).
The Wildcats (10-8, 3-4) rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to go ahead for the first time at 55-54 on Chris Walker's basket with 1:34 left. Arron Bain led Villanova's rally, scoring 21 of his 27 points in the half.
After Buchanan's basket, Walker's three-point attempt was partially blocked by Malik Sealy with five seconds remaining. Billy Singleton got the rebound, was fouled and sealed the victory with two free throws with three seconds left.
The victory was the 499th for Coach Lou Carnesecca. There are only 29 coaches with 500.