Seniors rise to the occasion as MUBB downs Xavier

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Seniors rise to the occasion as MUBB downs Xavier

Luke Fischer shot 3-for-4 against Xavier Wednesday night.

Luke Fischer shot 3-for-4 against Xavier Wednesday night.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Luke Fischer shot 3-for-4 against Xavier Wednesday night.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Luke Fischer shot 3-for-4 against Xavier Wednesday night.

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Marquette men’s basketball avoided a seventh-place finish in the BIG EAST with a huge 95-84 win at Xavier Wednesday night. The three seniors — Luke Fischer, Jajuan Johnson and Katin Reinhardt — all put in complete performances on both ends of the floor to lead the Golden Eagles to the crucial victory.

Johnson and Reinhardt were particularly impressive, combining for 36 points on an efficient 14-of-18 shooting. On the offensive end, Reinhardt was nearly unguardable. The graduate student beat his man off the dribble all night long and when he wasn’t going by his defender, he was creating space with a step back jumper. Reinhardt finished the evening 3-for-4 from behind the arc and he added three assists without turning the ball over once.

On the defensive end of the floor, Johnson wreaked havoc all game long. The senior was clogging passing lanes with his long arms and giving Xavier players headaches throughout the game. Johnson logged four steals, which helped contribute to Marquette’s 25 points off of turnovers. Johnson was also effective on the defensive end, adding 19 points and four assists. His ability to slash the lane spaced the floor for Marquette’s shooters all game long.

Although he only played 18 minutes, Fischer had a solid outing as well. The center snagged four boards and shot 3-for-4 from the field. He also added a block and an assist.

One of the reasons for Fischer’s smaller role was how difficult it was to take sophomore Matt Heldt off the court. Heldt totaled four points on 2-for-2 shooting, four rebounds and four blocks in 21 minutes. In his four games since entering the starting lineup, the sophomore has been a bona fide rim protector, with 13 blocks in three victories.

As a whole, the Golden Eagles were nearly unstoppable on the offensive end. Marquette shot 61 percent from the field and 57 percent from 3-point land. With the ball moving quickly, the Blue and Gold registered 19 team assists while turning it over only 10 times en route to 95 points, the most Xavier has given up at Cintas Center. Guard Andrew Rowsey led the way in the assist category with five, while Markus Howard added three.

One of the most encouraging takeaways from the victory was how Marquette closed the game. After blowing a double-digit lead in Saturday’s loss to Providence, the Golden Eagles flipped the script and never let Xavier get within single figures past the 11:51 mark. Marquette led by as much as 17 in the waning minutes.

With the victory, Marquette now has an opportunity to jump up to the third slot in the BIG EAST Conference. The Golden Eagles will take on Creighton Saturday for Senior Day at 1:30 p.m. for the final regular season contest of the year. Depending on the result, Marquette can finish anywhere between third and sixth in the conference.