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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

No. 10 Marquette moves into first place in conference standings

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After watching No. 13 Xavier lose to Butler Friday night, No. 10 Marquette knew first place in the Big East was in reach with a win over Georgetown Saturday.

“The guys got so into the game,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart told ESPN Milwaukee broadcasters Steve “The Homer” True and Tony Smith in a post-game radio interview. “I thought to myself it’s pretty cool to be in the race at this time of year and to be in the hunt and to come into today’s game with so much to play for and so much on the line for our team.”

Smart later said it gave the team the message to not take any game for granted.

“I thought that was a positive of watching the game, I was a little worried about guys thinking about Xavier,” Smart told ESPN Milwaukee. “If you go by projections Xavier ‘should’ go in there and win but we talked about should be.”

Smart’s team took that message and ran with it as the Golden Eagles (20-6, 12-3 Big East) defeated the Hoyas 89-75 at Capital One Arena.

Statistical leaders

Marquette had five scorers finish in double-figures.

Junior guard Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro finished with a combined 28 points and 13 assists on the afternoon. Ighodaro ended with seven rebounds as well.

Sophomore guard Kam Jones added 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Junior forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper and first guard Chase Ross each had 10 points.

Junior guard Jay Heath powered the Georgetown attack with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the floor. First-year guard Primo Spears was held to just eight points, six of which came in the second half.

Golden Eagles letting it Fly

Following a season low five 3-pointers made in its game at UConn Feb. 7, Marquette was able to find its rhythm against Georgetown, tying a season high in 3-pointers made with 15 threes at a 48% clip.

After the Hoyas went on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to just five points, 21-16 with 9:17 left in the first half, the Golden Eagles responded with an 8-2 run to put the lead back to 11 off 3-pointers from Jones and sophomore forward David Joplin.

“Everyone of our guys except Oso made a three, so it was nice for our guys to be shot ready,” Smart told ESPN Milwaukee. “They moved the ball around really well, Tyler and Oso with 13 assists between the two of them.”

To start out the second half, four of the first five makes from the floor were from 3-point range, padding out Marquette’s lead to 19 points, 62-43 with 14:51 left in the half.

Behind an 8-for-14 (57.1%) showing from behind the three point line in the second half, the Golden Eagles built up a lead by as much as 25 points before winning by 14.

Oso Bounces Back

After scoring a combined 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting over the last two games, Ighodaro finished Saturday’s contest with 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a block.

In the first half alone, Ighodaro was responsible for 18 points, scoring 12 of his own.

“You could see from the start that he was in a better place than he’s maybe been in the last couple of games and that’s such a huge key for us,” Smart said in a post-game press conference. “We play through him so many times (and) if you went and count the number of possessions in the game where he is involved in the action, it’s almost every time he is on the floor.”

Holding the Stars at Bay

Coming into this game, Spears and sophomore guard Brandon Murray were averaging 31.1 points per game combined.

However in this one, the Marquette defense held the two guards to just 15 points on 5-for-22 shooting.

Spears wouldn’t score his first field goal until 13:53 left in the second half, after Kolek turned the ball over and Spears was down at the other end cherry picking.

“I want to acknowledge him (Olivier-Maxence Prosper), Stevie Mitchell, Chase Ross and any of our other guys who ended up on Brandon Murray and Primo Spears,” Smart told ESPN Milwaukee. “Those two guys are hard to handle and for us to force them to 5-for-22 from the field it was a huge domino for this game.”

Up Next:

Marquette will be back at Fiserv Forum for a match-up between first place and second place in the Big East with No. 13 Xavier traveling to Milwaukee. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CST and will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

The Golden Eagles lost to Xavier, 80-76 back in early January.

“Wednesday night, (we need) as many Marquette fans as we can get into the building,” Smart told ESPN Milwaukee. “We definitely want that energy.”

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.

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