Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: Marquette looks to topple No. 8 Xavier in road clash

Matt+Heldt+scored+six+points+on+3-of-3+shooting+and+had+a+vital+block+in+Marquette%27s+72-69+BIG+EAST+Tournament+win+vs.+DePaul+%28Wire+stock+photo%29.
Matt Heldt scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting and had a vital block in Marquette's 72-69 BIG EAST Tournament win vs. DePaul (Wire stock photo).

Matt Heldt scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting and had a vital block in Marquette's 72-69 BIG EAST Tournament win vs. DePaul (Wire stock photo).

Matt Heldt scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting and had a vital block in Marquette's 72-69 BIG EAST Tournament win vs. DePaul (Wire stock photo).

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Marquette will be in search of another signature victory when they take on No. 8 Xavier at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati Wednesday night.

While the Golden Eagles kept it close last time these two teams squared off at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Musketeers used a late run to pull away from Marquette in a 91-87 win.

With games against No. 1 Villanova, Butler and Seton Hall next on the docket, a win Wednesday night against Xavier would be a massive step towards securing a return to the NCAA Tournament.

The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. Central time on FS1.

CAN’T BLOW IT AGAINST BLUIETT

Stopping Xavier’s senior point guard Trevon Bluiett will be a tough ask for Marquette’s defense, which has allowed a BIG EAST-high 75.2 points per game. Bluiett has averaged 20.3 points in his last three games, including 23 points on the road in a comeback victory over Seton Hall. Xavier’s other formidable guard, J.P. Macura chipped in 15 points in that win.

While Macura and Bluiett are Xavier’s biggest offensive weapons, they certainly are not the only threats. Xavier escaped with a victory against Marquette three weeks ago because of performances from Tyrique Jones, who hit 4 of 5 shots and finish with 11 points, and big man Sean O’Mara, who added six points and five rebounds. Yet another Musketeer to keep an eye on is junior forward Kaiser Gates, who has been averaging 9.1 points per game this season.

With Markus Howard returning from illness and Andrew Rowsey and Sam Hauser all fresh from the time off, this game could come down to the usual suspects: timely defense, 3-point shooting and stopping Xavier’s post players.

NINE DAYS OFF FOR BETTER OR WORSE?

The Golden Eagles come off a rare nine-day break, helping Howard fight an illness and others gear up for Marquette’s toughest stretch of the season. Wojciechowski said last week that the break gives the team some much-needed rest.

“I try to look at everything as a positive,” Wojo said after the DePaul win. “We have to get our team healthy and fresh, and it will allow us to do that. School is going to start back up again, so it will allow them to get locked back in as students and get into a routine, which is disruptive when you’re on break time. Then we have to continue to get better.”

It also allows Wojo more flexibility in preparing for Xavier.

“One of the things when you run the gauntlet of the BIG EAST, it’s hard to practice really long, and it’s hard to do all the things you’d like to do because you have to be aware of your guys’ legs and fatigue and injury and all those things,” Wojo continued. “We have to look at it as a positive, and I think we need to use it to get better. When we had a bye week last week, our team got better and I’m hoping that we’ll follow a similar pattern this year.”

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