BASELINE: Strong defense down the stretch leads to sixth-straight win

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Photo by Alex DeBuhr

Redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek (22) in a defensive stance in Marquette men’s basketball’s 75-64 win over No. 20 Xavier Jan. 23.

After a statement win on the road four-day ago, Marquette men’s basketball returned home to Fiserv Forum to host the No. 20 Xavier Musketeers on Sunday for its #LovellStrong game.

A strong defensive performance down the stretch helped lift the Golden Eagles over the Musketeers 75-64 for its sixth-straight victory.

Here is a breakdown of the win:

Game MVP: Justin Lewis

After hitting the game-winning shot and a 21 point performance on Wednesday against No. 11 Villanova, redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis followed up with 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field with 13 rebounds and two assists.

“Justin Lewis grabbing the ball for us, 13 defensive rebounds is probably the most important stat of the game,” head coach Shaka Smart said.

Over the last two games, Lewis has combined to shoot 9-for-15 from the 3-point line.

“Its a huge factor,” first-year guard Kam Jones said. “He’s gained a lot more confidence in the shot as the season has progressed and we believe it is going in every time he shoots.”

Key Stats: 

  • Marquette shot 46.8% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc while Xavier shot 38.7% and 26.1% respectively.
  • The Musketeers held the Golden Eagles scoreless over the last 1:39 of the first half.
  • The Golden Eagles finished with 21 assists on 26 made field-goals, with redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek and graduate student guard Darryl Morsell combining for 14 of them.
  • At one point of the game, Xavier went on a stretch where they hit 10 of 11 shots from the field.

Notes: 

  • Lewis and Morsell combined for 39 of Marquette’s 75 points on the afternoon.
  • It is the first time since 2019, that the Golden Eagles have secured six-straight BIG EAST wins.
  • During halftime, the team honored the 2022 M Club Hall of Fame which included former men’s basketball guard Dominic James and head coach Tom Crean.
  • First-year guard Stevie Mitchell finished with five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes of action.
  • First-year guard Kam Jones contributed 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field, with two buckets coming from the 3-point line.
  • The win streak is Marquette’s longest since an eight game winning streak during the 2018-19 season from Jan. 6-30.

Quote of the Day: 

Smart spoke about Lewis’ work ethic after recording his

“Most mornings, he is inside the Al (McGuire Center) shooting at 7:30 in the morning and there’s (been) a couple times he got on me because he was in there before me,” Smart said. “He’s like ‘I didn’t see your car, what’s up.’ You got to give him credit for his work ethic.”

Next Game: 

Marquette (14-6, 6-3 BIG EAST) will now travel to Newark, New Jersey to face Seton Hall Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CST to begin its two-game east coast road trip.

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