By Josh Adams, @NCAAHoopsDigest

The Martin Luther King Day Marathon of Big East games took place on Monday as the 2016-17 conference season kicked into high gear with a potpourri of intriguing matchups. The annual event salutes Dr. King’s legacy as each team wore an “MLK” patch (pictured) to pay homage to the leader of the civil rights movement. 

Creighton paid a visit to a hostile Cintas Center as the home Xavier Musketeers were ready to take down the #7 Blue Jays and give them their first statement win of the season.  Thinks looked rough in the early going for the visiting Blue Jays as their star point guard Mo Watson Jr. went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury early in the first half. The Blue Jays Marcus Foster rallied his team with 15 points as Creighton scored the last six points of the ballgame to steal a win, 72-67. It was Xavier’s third straight conference loss. Watson will have an MRI on his knee as the Blue Jay faithful wait to hear if the national assists leader will be back soon or if his injury will put a promising Creighton season in jeopardy. 

#13 Butler played host to Marquette at Hinkle Fieldhouse where the visiting Golden Eagles got off to a fast start and took a sixteen point lead into halftime. Whatever Bulldogs Coach Chris Holtmann told his team during the intermisson worked as his team shot the lights out in the 2nd half with a blistering 19 of 27 performance from the field. The Bulldogs prevailed 88-80 in front of a jubilant home crowd but make no mistake about it, Marquette will not be a pushover in conference play. Butler’s Kelan Martin led his team with 22 points while Marquette’s Markus Howard led all scorers with 26 points. 

The new #1 team in the nation, Villanova, flexed some serious muscle on Monday evening as they destroyed the visiting Pirates from Seton Hall. A rematch of last year’s Big East Championship, the Wildcats avenged their loss by quickly disposing of a Pirates team that looked overmatched for most of the contest. Villanova’s Kris Jenkins scored 16 points as the home Wildcats won by thirty, 76-46. The Pavilion has been a house of horrors for the Pirates who haven’t won at Villanova since 1994. 

St. John’s looked to stop a four game losing streak on Monday afternoon. The Red Storm hosted DePaul in front of a sellout crowd at Carnesseca Arena. Malik Ellison had a career high 23 points for St. John’s as they ended their losing streak with a 78-68 victory over the Blue Demons. The Red Storm have three Big East wins and have shown some marked improvement in year two of Chris Mullin’s tenure as head coach. 

Providence looked to get their second win against Georgetown this season as they played the Hoyas in the nitecap of the marathon in Washington, DC. Rodney Bullock scored a game high 22 points for the Friars as they beat the Hoyas 74-56. Georgetown is now 1-5 in Big East Conference play with Creighton and Xavier next on the schedule. The Friars Kyron Cartwright was one rebound short of a triple-double (16 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds). 

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