Big East Gradebook: Seniors highlight late-season push

At a time where there is a logjam in the middle of the Big East standings, seniors have emerged as difference-makers. Heading into Feb. 27, Creighton, Seton Hall, Butler and Providence all held 9-7 conference records, tying them for third place in the Big East behind league leaders Xavier and Villanova. With the regular season ending on March 3, several possibilities remain as to where teams will finish, but seniors such as Big East Player of the Week Khadeen Carrington have gotten their teams to this point.

Seniors are stepping up at key moments, with Seton Hall on a three-game win streak, Butler and Creighton winning two straight and Providence coming off a win, and the teams are set up for a tight race to the finish with Marquette sitting quietly on their tails. Here is a look at the seniors and upperclassmen who have stepped up for their teams recently and will be key in this final stretch.

A – Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall, Guard, Senior)

In a season where a transition to the point guard role has held Carrington back from contributing as much offensively as prior seasons, the senior was called upon last week in the absence of Seton Hall’s leading scorer. With Desi Rodriguez spraining his ankle after slipping on the court against Providence on Feb. 21, Carrington was called upon to contribute more on offense. In the 2-0 week that saw road victories over Providence and St. John’s, Carrington averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, shooting 52.0 percent from the field and 13-of-14 from the foul line.

Over the course of four days in three different arenas, Carrington showed his comfort on the floor. His numbers were a stark contrast of his averages of 14.2 points and 4.4 assists per game this season, so Seton Hall’s floor leader is heating up at the right time for the Pirates. The question is if he will continue that contribution once Rodriguez returns to the floor, and if Seton Hall can compete for third place in the conference without his heightened role on offense.

A- – Kelan Martin (Butler, Forward, Senior)

Martin has been a consistent contributor for the Bulldogs all season, but his game-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 shooting from three in a 93-70 win over Creighton came up big against a team in the thick of the Big East standings. The win makes the middle of the Big East a battle, and the senior continues to lead the way for his team into the Big East Tournament.

Closing the season out at Seton Hall on March 3, the Pirates’ senior day, will be Martin’s biggest test yet.

B+ – Khyri Thomas (Creighton, Guard, Junior)

He is not a senior, but Creighton needs Thomas to be at the top of his game to finish in the top half of the Big East standings. He averaged 19.0 points and 3.5 rebounds going 1-1 last week, including 24 points in a big-time 89-83 overtime win over No. 4 Villanova.

Thomas also added a near-triple-double in a win over DePaul on Feb. 27, alongside a big contribution from Marcus Foster. While Foster’s performance is always important, the Bluejays have Thomas to thank and rely on for the team’s push to finish the regular season on a high note.

B – Kyron Cartwright (Providence, Guard, Senior)

Providence is coming off a 1-1 week, where Cartwright averaged 20.5 points, 7.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. He had 16 points and nine assists in a 74-69 win at Georgetown, and the Friars will need him to step up even more as they visit No. 3 Xavier on Feb. 28. The difference between finishing in the top or bottom of the confidence for the Friars may come down to how Cartwright steps up to the competition, and his team will need him especially to rise to the challenge.