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Second Half Magic: #7 Marquette 86, St. John’s 75

The Golden Eagles dismantled the Red Storm after intermission, pure and simple.

St. John’s v Marquette Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Things got ugly for Marquette men’s basketball midway through the first half against St. John’s on Saturday evening at Fiserv Forum. What had been a competitive basketball game between the two teams for seven minutes suddenly got away from the Golden Eagles. The Red Storm ripped off 11 straight points to jump out to a 25-16 lead with 10:20 to go before intermission, and then just when MU started to show signs of life, Daniss Jenkins made things uncomfortable again. Eight straight from the Iona transfer in less than two minutes suddenly had the visitors up 15 points, 45-30, with 2:33 to go in the first half.

Did I mention that Marquette won this game by 11 already? Other than in the headline? Feels important for context here. Yes, down 15 with 2:33 to play in the first half. It’s not what you want, but it ended up working out.

Things started to turn for Marquette down the stretch before halftime. A Ben Gold three-pointer triggered an 8-2 burst for MU in the final 2:20 of the half, so instead of down 15, Marquette was only down nine. The last points of the first 20 minutes for Marquette were an omen: A three from Tyler Kolek. A little bit hurried, a little bit contested, but he scored right before the horn to make it a single digit game with 20 minutes to go.

Kolek hit three more three-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half. Toss in one from Stevie Mitchell, and hey, look at that, one point game, 16:20 to play. David Joplin connected for a three to put Marquette out in front, 55-54, at the 15:16 mark, and MU had gone on a 17-7 run to start the second half.

St. John’s fought back, and a pair of threes from Nahiem Alleyne went a long way towards keeping the Red Storm out in front in this game. But Marquette had answers of their own, and Tyler Kolek’s 10th assist of the game came up on a Chase Ross three-pointer that got Marquette back out in front, 67-65.

The lead nudged to four points with 5:27 to go, then six with 2:21 left. Jenkins answered with a bucket on the other end..... and then it was nothing but Marquette from there: Two free throws from Stevie Mitchell, a commanding dunk from Chase Ross, and an “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?” three-pointer from Kolek to provide a dagger with 36 seconds left.

I feel like the point did not get across here: Marquette outscored St. John’s 48-28 after halftime. The final margin was 11 points, but the final 20 minutes of this game were just Tyler Kolek running wild over the Red Storm. He had 22 of his game high 27 points after intermission, and by the end of 40 minutes, Kolek had also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out 13 assists. 13! That’s a lot! Kolek was not merely the catalyzing factor on the scoreboard here. He also appeared to grow more and more dialed into making winning plays as the game went on. Could a guy who was not 100% locked in and emotionally invested in his teammates make this play?

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

Up Next: Revenge, I hope. On Tuesday night, the Golden Eagles will be down in Indianapolis for a return bout with Butler. The Bulldogs won the first meeting between these two teams earlier this season and they’ll be coming in with five wins in their last six games. That’s the kind of thing that helps propel a team into contention for an NCAA tournament berth.