Marquette men’s basketball won, what else do you want?
The Golden Eagles got at least 10 points from four different players as they outpaced Northern Illinois, 80-66, on Saturday evening. The win moves Marquette to 6-1 on the season with just four non-conference games left to go.
It didn’t start well, with head coach Shaka Smart yanking his entire starting lineup at the 16:07 mark, although they were sent to the scorer’s table long before NIU scored seven straight to go up 7-4 in the early going. Things stayed relatively tight for the next eight minutes before finally Kur Kuath jumpstarted a 12-0 run by going bucket/defensive rebound/bucket right in a row. That left Marquette up 33-20 with 2:44 to go in the half and the lead would crest up to 14 for a second before settling at 11, 39-28, at the break.
If Marquette didn’t commit a turnover on 28% of possessions in the first half, they would have been up waaaaaaay more, but such is life.
Darryl Morsell broke the ice on the second half with a pair of freebies just over a minute in to put MU up 13. Marquette’s lead never dipped into single digits the rest of the way, although a layup by Adong Makuoi cut it to exactly 10 with 14:24 to go. MU’s next three buckets after that were three-pointers, one each from Morsell, Tyler Kolek, and David Joplin, and the lead hit 17 with 12:20 to play.
Freebies from Greg Elliott got MU up 20 for the first time all night with 10:24 to go and a bucket in the lane from Kam Jones with 9:32 to play made it a 22 point game. That was MU’s biggest margin of the entire game at 67-45. The closest that NIU would get from there would be 14, and that’s exactly where the game was at the final horn. Is it great that MU let eight points disappear into the atmosphere? Not really, no, but when you’re giving all of your true freshmen somewhere between 10 and 23 minutes of action, things are going to slip on you sometimes. Better it happens now and they get used to going hard every possession.
Justin Lewis was your top scorer of the night for Marquette, getting 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting and adding six rebounds, a block, and two steals to the proceedings. Stevie Mitchell added 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists off the bench, while Morsell and Kolek each added 10 points.
Marquette did not have their three-point shooting going in this game as they connected on just six of their 20 attempts for a conversion rate of 30%. No matter, as MU did shoot 66% on everything inside the arc, and that’s always a good thing. It also helps that Northern Illinois only hit 26% of their long range attempts so they didn’t have the ability to push back against the Golden Eagles.
How about some highlights, courtesy of Fox Sports and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: The Golden Eagles are off until Tuesday when Jackson State comes to town for what will be MU’s final game against a non-major conference opponent this season. The Tigers are just 1-5 this season after beating Louisiana 75-70 in Lafayette on Saturday. It will be their seventh straight road game out of a run of 12 in a row to start the season.