Marquette off to best start since 2011-12 season

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis attempts a 3-pointer in Marquette men’s basketball’s 98-40 exhibition win over Bowie State Nov. 4.

After upsetting No. 10 Illinois at home Tuesday, Marquette traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to face Ole Miss in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic and came away with a 78-72 win, expanding its winning streak to four games.

It is the first time the Golden Eagles have opened up a season 4-0 since the 2011-12 season.

“When you are coming off an emotional win like we had on monday, it’s certainly understandable to have a little bit of a mental letdown but it’s unacceptable,” Marquette men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart told ESPN’s Rich Hollenberg and Debbie Antonelli after the game. “Give them a lot of credit, they battled, came back and kind of overcame tough shooting in the first half.”

The start to the first half of this game was sloppy offensively for the Golden Eagles, as the Rebels opened up to a 8-0 lead forcing Smart to call a timeout at the 18:04 mark of the half.

Marquette picked it up towards the end of the half, going on 10-5 run.

First-year forward David Joplin hit a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Marquette into half trailing 36-31. The Golden Eagles shot 33.3% from the field along with five turnovers while the Rebels shot 50% and tallied six turnovers.

The second half began in Marquette’s favor as redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis hit a 3-pointer to bring the deficit within two in the first 28 seconds of the half.

Offensively Marquette shot the ball much better early in the second half, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. At the 16:36 mark of the half, graduate student guard Darryl Morsell provided Marquette its first lead of the game when he knocked down a 3-pointer from outside the arc.

With just under 10 minutes to go in the game, the Golden Eagles began to separate themselves from the Rebels. Marquette’s defense brought struggles to the Ole Miss offense down the stretch, creating a three minute and 52 second scoreless drought for the Rebels.

Redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night at the 4:41 mark of the half, increasing the Marquette lead to five 65-60.

With 18 seconds left, Ole Miss had an opportunity to come within one after Robert Allen blocked first-year guard Kam Jones’ layup. But Jarkel Joiner missed the layup for the Rebels while in transition.

One of the reasons why Marquette was able to come from behind and hold their lead was due to their  success from the free-throw line.

The Golden Eagles went 17-for-19 from the charity stripe, including 6-for-6 over the final 1:33 of the second half.

Another important factor in the Golden Eagles’ win was its five energizing blocks throughout the game. Graduate student forward Kur Kuath and redshirt first-year Olivier-Maxence Prosper were among the Golden Eagles who notched the emphatic blocks with four and one respectively.

For the fourth straight game, Morsell led Marquette on the night with 22 points, going 5-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from the 3-point line, while recording three rebounds and a steal.

Lewis finished with a career-high 21 points, shooting 6-for-13 from the field and 5-for-8 from beyond the arc, along with nine rebounds and a steal.

“I told him at the halftime, you been through this before with a tough start offensively and (then) you respond. That’s exactly what he did tonight,” Smart said to Hollenberg and Antonelli.

Jones finished with a career-high 18 points in 25 minutes of action.

Marquette (4-0) will play the winner of Elon vs West Virginia Friday in the Shriners Children Charleston Classic Semifinals at 6 p.m. CST.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.