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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 secures statement road win against Notre Dame

Sophomore guard Kam Jones finished with a game-high 25 points in Marquette men’s basketball’s 79-64 win over Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion Dec. 11. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

It might have taken 34 days into the season but the Marquette men’s basketball team secured its first true road win Sunday afternoon in its non-conference finale against Notre Dame.

Behind a strong second-half performance from sophomore guard Kam Jones and a silent but deadly double-double from junior forward Oso Ighodaro, the Golden Eagles took down the Fighting Irish 79-64 at Purcell Pavilion.

“Thought today was one of our better games from a consistency standpoint,” head coach Shaka Smart told ESPN Milwaukee broadcasters Steve “The Homer” True and Tony Smith in a post-game radio interview. “We played two halves really hard. We were connected, our guys stayed together, we didn’t get out of sorts. But at the same time, there’s a lot of growth even from this game.”

“There’s a lot of things we can do better communicating. But, this is the type of team that we can be steely-minded going on the road and understanding you’re playing a veteran team and this is what we have to do to win.”

Sunday’s matchup was the first meeting between both programs since March 14, 2013 in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden when the Fighting Irish came out on top 73-65.

Notre Dame will complete the home-and-home series in 2023-24 at Fiserv Forum.

Back on the court, both sides traded blows early on as it was even-keeled at the under-eight media timeout after sophomore forward David Joplin hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 18-18.

The Golden Eagles entered foul trouble towards the end of the half, as junior forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper picked up his second foul at the 4:45 mark, sending him to the bench for the remainder of it.

The closing minutes of the first half were crucial for Marquette as the Golden Eagles’ offense as they used a 9-1 extended run down the stretch to head into halftime leading 31-28.

Towards the end of the half, Ighodaro picked his 10th rebound giving him his third career double-double as he finished with 10 rebounds and 10 points in 15 minutes of action in the half.

“Coming into this game, he was averaging one and a half offensive rebounds and I told him ‘You’re selling yourself short man. You can get at least three a game.’ I didn’t know he would get seven (in the first half),” Smart said. “The thing with Oso is we ask him to do so much on the offensive and defensive end. He is a human being, he’s not a machine.

“Sometimes when you’re asked to do so much, certain things can kind of fall down the priority list. But, the reality is like when a shot goes up, that priority is going up to the ball and I thought he did a great job of that tonight on both ends.”

Marquette’s defense caused Notre Dame trouble throughout the entire first 20 minutes, as the Golden Eagles held the Fighting Irish to no field goals over the last 5:43 of the half.

The Golden Eagles continued their momentum in the second half, opening up on a 7-0 run to push the lead to double digits at 41-29 forcing Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey to call a timeout.

Notre Dame hit back-to-back 3-pointers out of the timeout to end the drought to bring it within six. But much like the first half, Marquette didn’t lose its command as the Golden Eagles went on another extended run. They scored eight straight points, capped off by an open corner 3-pointer from sophomore guard Kam Jones off an assist from junior guard Tyler Kolek.

At the 10:42 mark of the half, Marquette went down one man as Joplin was ejected from the game after being called for a Flagrant 2 foul.

Marquette put away the game between 7:31 and 4:16 when it went on an 11-o run. Ighodaro, who Smart has coined Point Oso with his playmaking and ball-handling skills, showcased a smooth back-down pass to sophomore guard Stevie Mitchell during the run.

Jones finished with a game-high 25 points, 17 of which came in the second half. It is the 6-foot-4 guard’s third 20-point performance in the last four games.

Ighodaro impacted the scoring sheet all around as he finished with a career-high 18 rebounds, 16 points, three assists and a steal in 33 minutes of action.

“The way he rebounded was huge for our team and set a big tone,” Smart said.

The Golden Eagles dominated in the paint, outscoring the Fighting Irish 50-22 and out-rebounding offensively 15-9.

Marquette turned over the ball just three times in the afternoon, which is the least amount of turnovers in a single game under Smart.

“When you’re focused, it’s amazing how that turnover number works,” Smart said to True and Smith. “And our guys were really locked in. Kind of similar to Baylor, the game was bigger than all the little things that might cloud up someone’s mind. You could say, ‘Hey, every game needs to be that way,’ well, that’s what we’re working towards.”

With the win, Marquette improves to 3-1 during its challenging seven-game stretch that it is currently in. Smart’s squad also picks up their second quality win for their NCAA Tournament resume.

The Golden Eagles (8-3) begin Big East competition Friday against No. 21 Creighton, the preseason favorites in the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

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

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