BASELINE: Lockdown defense helps Marquette stun No. 6 Baylor

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Photo by Katie Craig

Following his teams win over Chicago State last Saturday, Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said his team would need to set the tone on defense and limit their turnovers in order to upset No. 6 Baylor.

And that is exactly what happened Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum.

Behind a balanced approach on offense and Smart’s violent defense, the Golden Eagles upset the No. 6 ranked Bears by a score of 96-70 for their first signature win of the season.

The Golden Eagles found their rhythm early on in this Big East-Big 12 Battle, getting out to a 23-9 lead by the 11:43 mark of the first half and didn’t look back.

Here is a breakdown of Marquette’s highest-ranked win under Smart:

Game MVP: Defense

The Golden Eagles delivered one of their best defensive performances in the Smart Era Tuesday night against the Bears, who have one of the best backcourts in the nation.

Marquette set the tone defensively from the get go, keeping Baylor to just three points on an extended 23-3 run in the first half.

“It was as well as we played relative to the opponent,” Smart said.

As the first half continued, the Golden Eagles continued to ramp up their pressure which resulted in six caused turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew said he didn’t see his teams struggles with it coming.

“First half, really surprised (that) we didn’t do a better job handling the pressure since we really pride ourselves (on that), our assist rate was one of the best coming in and we have guards that have dealt with pressure. Credit the crowd, credit them (Marquette) for building momentum, credit Shaka for having them prepared with how hard they play,” Drew said.

Overall on the night, Marquette held Baylor to under 50% shooting.

Notes

  • Baylor committed a season-high 20 turnovers on the night, which resulted in 26 points for Marquette. Of the 20 turnovers, 16 came in the first-half.
  • Marquette shot 56.8% from the field in the first half.
  • The Golden Eagles largest scoring run on the night was a 25-9 run in the first half.
  • Junior forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper finished with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field. He also added five rebounds and an assist.
  • Prosper and sophomores David Joplin and Kam Jones combined for 63 of Marquette’s 96 total points on the night.
  • Junior guard Tyler Kolek tied a career-high 11 assists. He also added six points, five rebounds and four steals.
  • Marquette hit a season-high 12 3-pointers on the night.
  • The Golden Eagles are now 7-6 all-time under Smart against AP Top 25 teams.
  • It is the largest margin of victory for Marquette vs a Top 10 team since 1971.
  • The 29-point victory marks the third-largest in Marquette history over an Associated Press Top-10 opponent. It is MU’s largest win ever over an opponent in the top-six of the AP poll.
  • It is the second Top-10 victory for the Golden Eagles under Smart. The other win was against Illinois Nov. 15, 2021, when the Illini were ranked No. 10.

Quote of the Day

Marquette honored the late George Thompson throughout the game. Thompson passed away this summer from complications of diabetes. He was 74.

“I really felt like we needed to win tonight to honor George,” Smart said. “(If) we’re going to make it George Thompson night, we couldn’t lose but I didn’t want to make turn that into an avoidance goal so I kept it focused on what our team needs to go after.”

Injury Update

Senior forward Zach Wrightsil missed his fourth straight game with left knee soreness.

Next UP

Marquette (6-2) will gear up for its in-state rivalry matchup against Wisconsin Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. CST at Fiserv Forum.

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