Two big things lurked in the background of Marquette men’s basketball’s contest on Saturday. First, how would the Golden Eagles respond to getting boatraced in Hartford earlier in the week, and second, could the Golden Eagles avoid letting one loss turn into two against a Georgetown squad that has been playing much better over the last couple of weeks?
Marquette answered both questions pretty emphatically, and pretty quickly, too. Your final from Washington, D.C.: #10 Marquette 89, Georgetown 75, and it wasn’t even that close. With the win, Marquette moves to 20-6 overall and assumes sole control of first place in the Big East at 12-3 after Xavier lost at Butler on Friday night to drop to 11-3 in the league.
MU’s solution to both looming issues for this game? Just make a ton of shots, especially long range ones. The Golden Eagles shot 7-for-17 (41%) from beyond the arc in the first half, and then followed that up with an 8-for-14 (57%) long range shooting effort in the second period. All told, that’s 52.2% overall from the field and 48.4% from three-point land for the game.
A 9-0 run for Marquette put them up early, 14-4, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. It wasn’t going to stay all Golden Eagles all of the time, and the Hoyas punched back, like a perfectly competent Big East team, and got it within five, 19-14, just past the midway point of the half. After Jay Heath scored for GU to keep the margin at five, the Golden Eagles got back-to-back threes from Kam Jones and David Joplin knocked the lead back to double digits in a hurry. Georgetown kept answering, cut the lead back to six, and it looked like we might have been heading in the direction of a real basketball game with less than four minutes to play in the half.
A second chance three from Ben Gold with less than three minutes to play 1) got the lead back to 10 and 2) marked Tyler Kolek’s seventh assist of the game and thus his 200th assist of the season. Kolek is the first Marquette player with at least 200 assists in a season since Aaron Hutchins did it in 1996. MU’s next bucket was a layup from Gold in transition, and Oso Ighodaro popped a six footer in right before the clock expired to make it 45-33 at intermission.
When you have a 10 point early lead, and then played a back-and-forth half from there, being up 12 at the break while holding the other team to less than a point per possession is pretty dang good.
Kam Jones popped in a three on Marquette’s first possession of the second half for the 15 point advantage, and the game officially broke open not long thereafter. Olivier-Maxence Prosper sank three free throws surrounding a Kolek layup for a little 5-0 burst and a 17 point margin. A three from Heath on the other end was the next bucket of the game, and that would be the closest that Georgetown would get until there was less than two minutes to play.
Three from Prosper.
Three from Stevie Mitchell.
Three from Sean Jones.
Marquette by 19, 14:51 to play.
Things kind of leveled out there for a while, but that’s fine, Georgetown wasn’t making a run, you can just burn clock leading somewhere between 15 and 19 points. Kolek drained a three to make it a 20 point margin for the first time in the game with 8:55 to play, he followed that with and-1 layup, and a big ol’ OMax putback dunk put Marquette up 25, 78-53.
That was the high water mark of Marquette’s offense for the day, and marks the effective end of the game. Head coach Shaka Smart started working his reserves more and more onto the floor, and it took Georgetown until nearly three minutes left to play to finally whittle the lead back under 20 for the rest of the contest.
Kam Jones, Tyler Kolek, and Oso Ighodaro all finished with 14 points for the team high, and Ighodaro’s 31 minutes were the most on the team in this one. OMax Prosper (11) and Chase Ross (10) both got into double digits with that top trio. Prosper and Ighodaro tied for the team lead in rebounds with seven, while Kolek finished with “only” eight assists, just a shade over his 7.7 average for the season, after racking up seven helpers in the first half.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: A showdown with Xavier awaits. That one will be back at Fiserv Forum, and tipoff this coming Wednesday is set for 6pm Central on CBS Sports Network. I don’t think it is out of the question to say that Wednesday’s game just could end up deciding the Big East regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament.