Marquette dominates No. 16 Providence, earns first BIG EAST win

Graduate+student+Guard+Darryl+Morsell+%2832%29after+a+basket+in+Marquette+mens+basketballs+88-56+win+over+No.+16+Providence+Jan.+4.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics%29

Graduate student Guard Darryl Morsell (32)after a basket in Marquette men’s basketball’s 88-56 win over No. 16 Providence Jan. 4. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics)

Following a loss in double overtime on New Year’s Day to Creighton, Marquette stayed at home and got a huge bounce back win over No.16 Providence by a final of 88-56.

The Golden Eagles dominated on both ends of the court in this one as Providence never held a lead. However, the Friars did use an 8-0 run in the first half to bring the score to 22-18.

Marquette responded to that run in a big way, as from then on they finished the first half on a 20-4 run.

In the second half the lead grew bigger and bigger for the Golden Eagles, as they lead by as much as 37, a season-high mark.

Marquette was once again led in scoring by redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis, who finished with a career-high 23 points on 7-for-16 shooting. He also had a double-double with 11 rebounds, four of which were on the offensive end.

“I thought Justin’s approach was phenomenal,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “It makes such a big difference for our team when he’s in a good mind space.”

This was a bounce-back performance from Lewis who shot 4-for-18 on Saturday against the Blue Jays.

“Justin came into this game with a different approach knowing we need him to do more on both ends,” graduate student forward Kur Kuath said.

While Lewis had the biggest offensive output, Kuath arguably had the best defensive game for Marquette as he had a season-high seven blocks. He also scored nine points and had five rebounds.

“We’re at our best when Kur’s blocking shots,” Smart said. “It affects everybody, you can hear it in the crowd.”

Kuath, along with redshirt first-year forward Oso Ighodaro were able to hold 6’11” graduate student center Nate Watson to just eight points on 4-for-11 shooting.

“Our game-plan was to make it hard as possible for him and force him out of the post,” Kuath said. “It took a lot of work, he’s a great player. Oso and I working together to stop him gave him a load.”

Ighodaro followed up his career-high 22 points with 16 points tonight on 6-for-7 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds.

“They’ve (Kuath and Ighodaro) come a long way,” Smart said. “That position has given us the most consistent production in terms of what we ask for and we encourage them to look at it as a two-headed monster.”

The Golden Eagles also got a big offensive boost from first-year guard Kam Jones, who returned from the health and safety protocols to score 14 points off the bench. He shot 5-for-7 from the field while adding a couple rebounds as well.

“Shaka and his staff do a great job instilling confidence in him,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said. “He’s on a scouting report as a shooter. He’s a hell of a guard and a great player.”

Jones led the guards in scoring, but redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek once again led the team in assists, matching his season-high total with nine.

“Tyler’s overall game is amazing. Great court vision and he’s got the ball on a string,” Kuath said. “Playing with a guy like that makes it easier for me and helps the team a lot offensively.“

This is the first win in BIG EAST play for Marquette and the first in the Shaka Smart era. The Golden Eagles improve to 9-6, 1-2 in BIG EAST play on the season.

“This is how you’re supposed to play in a home game in front of your crowd when a really good team comes to your place,” Smart said. “We need to take this game, learn from it and apply the consistency that we need to have.“

Next up for Marquette is a matchup on the road in Washington D.C. against Georgetown on Friday night. The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. CST and will be the first game for the Hoyas since December 18th as they had four games canceled due to issues related to COVID-19 within their program.

This article was written by Matt Yeazel. He can be reached at matthew.yeazel@marquette.edu or on Twitter @MJYeazel.