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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Men’s basketball bounces back against Georgia Tech

Sophomore guard Kam Jones (1) finished with a game-high 19 points in Marquette men’s basketball’s 84-60 win over Georgia Tech at the Rocket Mortgage Ft. Myers Tip-Off Classic Nov. 23. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After fumbling a chance to steal a victory at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off Monday night, the Marquette men’s basketball team flipped the switch Wednesday night against Georgia Tech.

Behind sophomore guard Kam Jones’ 19 points, the Golden Eagles defeated the Yellow Jackets by a score 84-60 Wednesday night at Suncoast Credit Union Arena to leave the Sunshine State with a 1-1 record.

“Really liked how our guys responded, that was our theme for the game,” head coach Shaka Smart told ESPN Milwaukee broadcasters Steve “The Homer” True and Tony Smith in a post-game radio interview. “We had  four, five, six guys crying in the locker room the other night because they were so upset about the Mississippi State loss. And the reality is, when you’re in a tournament setting, you got to turn the page quickly.

“I thought our guys had a very good resolve to them by let’s have a good practice yesterday, let’s be motivated and let’s be the higher energy team. I thought they did that tonight.”

The Golden Eagles got out to an early 5-0 start behind baskets from juniors Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Tyler Kolek. Prosper quickly got into foul trouble, picking up two fouls in the first four minutes sending him to the bench.

But Prosper’s absence didn’t frazzle the Golden Eagles offense as their run extended to 14-2 to open the game heading into first media timeout. First-year guard Chase Rose had an emphatic dunk during that stretch off the baseline.

Kolek took over for an extended run of his own in the half, scoring eight points in a five minute stretch. Following hitting a 3-pointer, Kolek found sophomore forward Oso Ighodaro in transition for a dunk, which forced the Georgia Tech to call a timeout as Marquette lead 31-19 at the 7:04 mark.

The Golden Eagles went into halftime leading 41-28. Marquette shot 50.0% from the floor in the first 20 minutes, holding Georgia Tech to just 34.4%.

Georgia Tech struggled against the Marquette pressure defense in the half, turning the ball over seven times.

Marquette’s second half was not much different as it kept its foot on the gas. Sophomore guard Stevie Mitchell provided the dagger hitting a 3-pointer in the right corner with 1:41 left to go to give the Golden Eagles their largest lead of the night at 29, 80-51.

Jones finished the night with a game-high 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.

“It was great seeing Kam get going a little bit from outside,” Smart said. “He’s such a good shooter and I was on him early because he passed up a couple shots. It’s like, ‘Hey, man we want you to shoot every open three we can get you’ because that’s a high quality look for us.”

There were other standout performances.

Kolek had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. It is just the second time in his career with the Golden Eagles that he has reached double figures in back-to-back outings.

Ighodaro had season-high 10 rebounds and five blocks while scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field. Smart said he was impressive with 6-foot-9 forward’s presence on the boards.

“Oso was terrific on the glass. I told the guy if we want to take on a defensive identity, a big part of that is going to grab the ball when we make them miss,” Smart said. “We’re going at making people miss the first shot, we’re not as good at grabbing the ball as a team. He did a great job paying attention about grabbing the ball.”

First-year guard Sean Jones provided a spark off the bench finishing with a career-high 11 points.

“Tonight was the first time the opponent changed who they had bringing the ball up  the floor because of Sean Jones and it will not be the last,” Smart said. “And I told him that’s a big deal that you can change their point guard because of your pressure.”

All 10 available scholarship players saw minutes, Zach Wrightsil and Emarion Ellis are sidelined with injuries.

Marquette had 17 points off the fast break and 38 in the paint.

“The guys did a good job when we did force turnovers, getting out and scoring,” Smart said. “To double them up on points off turnovers is a big deal.”

Even with his team’s performance defensively, Smart said there are “a lot of areas” to still improve on.

With the win, Smart sits at 295 career wins.

Marquette (4-2) will now return to Fiserv Forum Saturday to take on Chicago State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST on FS2.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU. 

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