Marquette takes down Georgetown in the nation’s capital

%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

WASHINGTON – After earning a statement win at home Tuesday night against No. 16 Providence, Marquette men’s basketball continued their winning ways in the nation’s capital Friday night defeating the Georgetown Hoyas 92-64 at Capital One Arena.

It is the first win on the road for the Golden Eagles since Dec. 12 at Kansas State.

For Marquette, it is the second-straight game where they have put out a complete performance as they have outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 60 points.

Head coach Shaka Smart said the team “just caring about each other” has allowed their defense leading to their offense.

“That’s the biggest thing,” Smart said. “Every team goes through twists and turns over the course of a year and they have to learn that the only way to be their best is together and truly committing to something larger than themselves. And our guys have done a great job (with that).”

Meanwhile on the court, Smart sees his team gelding together.

“Our guys (have) played with good energy, sharing the basketball defensively,” Smart said. “We had a lot of good possessions, certainly had some that we can do better but thought getting our hands on a basketball was really really big.”

After leading by as much as 17 in the first half, a slow and sloppy stretch to end the first half by Marquette allowed Georgetown to go on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to eight heading into halftime.

“Felt like we just didn’t run back in transition,” redshirt first-year forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper said. “They were getting buckets in transition on us so we just have to get back quicker and set defensively. Thought in the second half we were more focused on that.”

The start to the second half was not much better for Marquette, as Georgetown opened on a 7-2 run, bringing the deficit to 47-44.

Then the Golden Eagles took over there and didn’t look back, as they put together a run of 15 straight unanswered points to jump out to a 70-48 lead forcing Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing to call a timeout.

“Georgetown actually made some really, really good plays early in the second half,” Smart said. “Thought our guys continued to fight, share the ball with each other and then turn defense into offense was a big deal for us going on that run.”

Marquette would outscore Georgetown 47-27 and shoot 62.5% from the field in the second half, pulling away with the 92-64 victory.

“We didn’t compete enough,” Ewing. said. “We turned the ball over, we took bad shots. We made the right plays in the first half to cut it to eight, we made right plays to cut it to three, but then we tried to do it (by) ourselves.”

Ewing said he was frustrated with his teams performance.

“As a player who helped build this program, I am disappointed in my team’s performance. This is not what Georgetown basketball is about. Big John (Thompson, former Georgetown coach) is rolling over in his grave for the performance that we showed tonight,” Ewing said.

The Golden Eagles heavily outmatched the Hoyas inside the paint, as Marquette outscored Georgetown 56-28 down-low.

“Georgetown was being really aggressive on pick-and-roll coverage so we wanted to try to utilize that as a way to move the ball and then drive from there,” Smart said. “Thought our guys made some good decisions when we did get into paint.”

Prosper led the way for Marquette on the afternoon with career-high 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field with four rebounds and two steals.

“For me, it all starts on the defensive end,” Prosper said. “If I focus on that (defense) then the offense will come.”

Since the Montreal, Quebec, native returned to the starting lineup Dec. 21 vs UConn, he has averaged 12.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals.

“Just been dialed in and trying to get stops,” Prosper said. “On offense, my team has been doing a good job finding me. I’m just trying to be aggressive out there, make the open shots and attack the paint.”

Graduate student Kur Kuath set a new career-high in rebounds with 11. He also added six points, three blocks and an assist on the night.

The Golden Eagles’ scored 29 points off the Hoyas’ 15 turnovers.

“We’re so much better when we play transition,” Prosper said. “By getting deflections, getting steals, having guys like Kur (Kuath) at the rim who can block shots that can get us going every time.

“That’s when we get those transition opportunities. We have great athletes on this team, have guys who can make great decisions on transition. So I feel like starting on defense, that’s how we were able to push the transition and we just made the right read and we made our shots.”

Marquette now has a 18-14 lead in the all-time series that dates back to the 1941-42 season after Friday’s win.

The Golden Eagles (10-6, 2-3 BIG EAST) will look to extend its three-game winning streak Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. CST when they host the DePaul Blue Demons at Fiserv Forum.

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