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The Royal & The Rumble: #14 Marquette 75, RV Seton Hall 57

The Golden Eagles keep pushing and push right past the Pirates in the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It was a shaky start for #14 ranked Marquette at Fiserv Forum on Saturday afternoon. I don’t just mean because Seton Hall jumped out to a 14-7 lead, I mean physically shaky, as guard Kam Jones was, after arriving at the stadium in a walking boot, clearly in no condition to play a Big East basketball game on his ankle, hobbling from side to side on the court after starting.

But by the end, Marquette’s performance was anything but shaky. The Golden Eagles exploded out of the locker room for 45 second half points and cruised to a 75-57 victory, avenging their loss to the Pirates in Newark earlier this season. Marquette is now 15-5 overall and 6-3 in the Big East, while Seton Hall drops to 13-8 and 6-4 in the league after three straight losses.

It took just over five minutes for Seton Hall to get that 14-7 lead, but they got stuck on 14 for nearly another five minutes as the Golden Eagles hung a skunk on them and punctuated that skunk with a steal from Stevie Mitchell and a breakaway dunk by Zaide Lowery. But MU still wasn’t in front yet. Every time they inched closer, Seton Hall nudged away from them. A Mitchell putback got MU within two points, at 21-19 with 5:44 to go, and the vibes in the building told the team that they were ready to explode as soon as they tied it and took the lead.

So what happened? Marquette got a little too cute. It seemed like they wanted to make a fan pleasing play to tie the game up, and as a result? They got a little bit sloppy and didn’t quite get it done, and Jaden Bediako put in two easy buckets for a 25-19 lead at the 4:14 mark.

That, however, is where the game turned around, or rather, right after the timeout that Shaka Smart called at that point. Whatever he said to them, perhaps some variation on “hey, we’ve got 24 minutes to play, we don’t have to do everything to beat them right this second,” it worked. Ben Gold cashed in the first of three three-pointers on the day for the big Kiwi and Mitchell scored after a David Joplin steal, and that triggered an 11-4 run for Marquette to end the half. Joplin provided the final two points after getting fouled in the corner on a three-pointer with just seconds left in the half, a bit of a turnaround from Jop fouling at midcourt right before the half against DePaul earlier this week.

Guess how the second half started? Yep, same way the second half in Chicago started: A three-pointer from Joplin. That started off a 12-2 run for the Golden Eagles to start the second half. All told, a 23-6 run for Marquette, sending the game from down 25-19 to up 42-31. Heck you could say it was a 26-8 run if you wanted, because Joplin fired off another three after a Dylan Addae-Wusu bucket to make it a 12 point lead before four minutes wound off the clock in the second half.

Marquette couldn’t keep Bediako off the line, and that helped Seton Hall calm things down and whittle away at the margin. A layup from Bediako at the 13:18 mark trimmed the lead to just five points, 46-41, and it very clearly seemed that we were going to have a competitive basketball game.

Nearly seven minutes would go by before Seton Hall had another field goal. Oso Ighodaro scored to kick off a 15-4 run for Marquette featuring a wicked Joplin and-1 in transition, and that made it 61-45 with under 7:30 to play. The Pirates wouldn’t get closer than 12 points the rest of the way, and by the way? All of this? Right up to the final 90 seconds of the game when MU led 71-55? Not a single point for Tyler Kolek. Marquette’s point guard provided the punctuation on the afternoon, scoring the final two buckets of the game for the Golden Eagles.

High scoring honors on the day go to Oso Ighodaro, who put up 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal. He barely beat out David Joplin, who had 20 points thanks to 3-for-8 shooting from long range. Stevie Mitchell was a driving point of what Marquette did to win this game, not just because of his 13 points or his six rebounds, but he had five steals, including two in the final nine minutes. Tyler Kolek didn’t score at all when it mattered in this game, but he had 11 assists for the third time in four games and added two steals of his own.

How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?

Up Next: Marquette will be back in action on Tuesday night. It will be the first of two straight road games between now and National Marquette Day as the Golden Eagles go out to Philadelphia to face Villanova at Finneran Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm Central, and FS1 will have the broadcast. Villanova spent Saturday taking their fourth straight loss, this time by way of a double overtime defeat on the road against Butler.