Elliott sets new career-high in Golden Eagles third-straight victory

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Redshirt junior guard Greg Elliott (5) finished with a career-high 25 points in Marquette men’s basketball’s 89-76 win over DePaul Jan. 11. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Redshirt junior guard Greg Elliott has seen his fair share of adversity at Marquette, whether that be an ankle injury or limited minutes off the bench.

Now under first-year head coach Shaka Smart, Elliott is getting his chance to provide veteran play and quality minutes off the Golden Eagles bench.

“When I was a kid, we used to play outside outdoor ball. We would go to a park, we were 15 years old, and  play against these old guys,” Smart said. “And, they were a little bit out of shape and not the greatest athletes, but they just knew how to play.

And Greg is that old guy. He just knows how to play. I’m not saying he’s out of shape, but he’s not the greatest athlete. He’s not going to dunk on anybody but he’s old, smart and let’s face it, you go down our roster we don’t have a lot of those. So he you know, he really stands out. And that gives the team real confidence.”

The veteran play was in action Tuesday night as he put up a career-high 25 points in Marquette’s 87-76 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons.

Additionally, Elliott finished with a season-high five assists, two rebounds and two steals.

“I just want to come in and be a spark, do whatever I can to help my team get closer to getting a victory,” Elliott said. “I felt like me coming in being aggressive, looking for my shot or knocking down open shots was needed today. And that’s what I did.”

DePaul head coach Tony Stubblefield said the Blue Demons allowed “him to get to spots and we didn’t find him a couple times in transition.”

“We gave him some open looks and he got his confidence going,” Stubblefield said. “And that’s what happens when you let a good shooter get their confidence going. He came in and made some big shots for them (Marquette).”

Marquette put together a 12-2 run to take a 18-12 lead at the 12:28 mark of the first half forcing Stubblefield to call a timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, the Blue Demons continued to chip away creating a run of their own prompting Smart to burn a timeout of his own after senior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty converted on the layup trimmed the Marquette lead to 31-30.

The Blue Demons had an opportunity to tie the game at 44-44 heading into halftime when graduate student guard Darryl Morsell was charged with a foul at the buzzer sending Brandon Johnson to the line.

However, Johnson went 1-for-2 at the charity stripe giving Marquette a close 44-43 lead heading into the locker rooms.

In the first half, DePaul out-rebounded Marquette 23-13, with a 12 to two advantage on offensive boards.

After a 4-0 run to open the second half by DePaul, Marquette responded with 6-0 run on back-to-back 3-pointers from Morsell and redshirt first-year forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper to take the lead back at 54-50.

The Golden Eagles continued their momentum, leading as many at 19 points at the 3:48 mark, and pushed their way to their third-straight BIG EAST win.

Smart said he was pleased with how his team responded in the second half.

“Was excited about the way that our guys came out of halftime and just demonstrated a real focus on what we needed to do,” Smart said.

Morsell added 16 points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal on the night.

Smart said both Elliott and Morsell provided “our team tremendous confidence” on the offensive and defensive ends respectively.

“Just by being old, smart and confident on that end of the floor,” Smart said. “That makes a big, big difference more than it says on the stat sheet.”

Redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek finished with a career-high 10 assists. Along with Kolek’s 10 assists, the Golden Eagles finished with a total of 27 assists on 34 made baskets across a rotation of 11 players.

Smart said Marquette’s depth has been the strength of the team this season.

“We have a lot of guys that can play in different ways,” Smart said.

After each game, Smart said the team votes on the “Domino Player of the Game” which is awarded to a player who plays a big role in a victory.

“Of the 10 previous wins, we’ve had nine different guys get voted by their teammates as domino of the game so that’s an indication of the fact that we’re a team that is going to benefit from having strength in numbers,” Smart said.

Despite the offense beginning to come together over the last three games, Smart said there is still one area they need to work on.

“We haven’t cracked the code to this yet, the offense clicking in the first four minutes of the game,” Smart said. “That’s probably if you added up over the course of a year our worse round of the game, the first round the first four minutes. And there might be a couple of reasons for that but we’re going to continue working to get better.”

The Golden Eagles (11-6, 3-3 BIG EAST) do not have much time to enjoy the win, as they enter a seven-game stretch where six of its opponents are ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. That stretch begins on Saturday against No. 20 Seton Hall at 11 a.m. CST at Fiserv Forum.

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