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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

No. 4 Marquette beats No. 1 Kansas to advance to the Maui Invitational championship

Senior forward Oso Ighodaro put up a Marquette-most 21 points, also earning a game-high nine rebounds in No. 4 Marquette’s 73-59 win over No. 1 Kansas Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Coming into Tuesday night, it had only happened twice in Marquette men’s basketball’s 107-year history: wins against the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

What about after? Go ahead and add a third to the list.

But don’t just write it in lead, stamp it in ink, as the No. 4 Golden Eagles (5-0) took down the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (4-1) 73-59; a lead so large that Kansas head coach Bill Self took off his three best players — Hunter Dickinson, Dajuan Harris Jr. and Kevin McCullar Jr. — with over two minutes remaining.

In response, Marquette head coach Shaka Smart benched his starters for the final minute.

“We kept our poise,” Smart said. “Obviously at the end of the first half there, there was a little dustup, but I give the guys a lot of credit. They had poise throughout, we stayed connected.

“Kansas is a really good team. This tournament’s filled with really good teams. We’re two games down, but we got a big one still to go.”

The win marked a lot more than a Maui Invitational championship appearance, though. It is Marquette’s first win over Kansas since 1974 and Smart’s first win against an AP No. 1 team in his 15 years as a head coach.

Turning defense into offense

It is the Smart way. Havoc defense leads to explosive offense, and it was on display all game.

With 2:45 remaining in the first half, Dickinson threw a sloppy pass and gave up possession. With the ball back, Marquette capitalized on the turnover, turning it into a layup from junior guard Kam Jones.

A minute later, Dickinson did the same thing, and once again the Golden Eagles capitalized with another layup, this time courtesy of sophomore guard Chase Ross. Those two plays gave Marquette its 38-28 lead going into the locker room.

The Golden Eagles had 13 points off 12 Jayhawk turnovers after 20 minutes while only turning the ball over four times themselves. Kansas’ season-average of a 16.7% turnover rate was doubled at the half, all the way up to 31%.

“We just use our advantages,” senior forward Oso Ighodaro said. “We have really good onboard defenders, Stevie, Chase, Sean, every game they bring it so they heated the ball up for us and we turned them over.”

By the end of the game, the Golden Eagles had 20 points off the Jayhawks’ 18 turnovers.

Bench boosts offense

The win came with help from the Golden Eagles’ sophomore class.

At the 16:55 mark of the second half, Ross — with a winding shot clock — hit a step-back 3-pointer to mark a 7-0 Marquette run, giving the Golden Eagles a 47-32 lead and forcing Self to call timeout.

Four minutes later, Marquette was in the midst of a three-minute scoring drought when the other two sophomores ended it. The 5-foot-10 Jones got two layups, and forward Ben Gold also scored back-to-back 3-pointers — the first of which was assisted by Jones — and Marquette extended its lead to 61-46 at a crucial point in the game.

After that, Kansas never got close.

When the final buzzer rang, Jones had nine points, Ross had 12 and Gold had six. The Golden Eagles scored 27 bench points, all of them coming from the sophomore trio.

Statistical leaders

Ighodaro led Marquette with 21 points — 14 of which came in the second half — and a game-high nine rebounds.

“He’s a warrior. I get emotional about it. He’s so much about other people, sometimes he forgets to do for himself. But he’s learning to strike that balance,” Smart said. “And he’s learning, whether it’s last night against Bona, whether it’s today against Dickinson, he can stand up to the best bigs in the country.”

Junior guard Kam Jones also put up 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting.

For Kansas, McCullar Jr. finished with a game-high 24 points, shooting 9-for-14 from the field and 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. Dickinson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Up next

Marquette will play for the Maui championship against No. 2 Purdue (5-0) Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. CST.

“That’s the biggest, baddest, big guy of all,” Smart said. “So we’re obviously going to have to get back to the hotel and quickly flush this game.

“The key is not to be satisfied with tonight, to go after tomorrow with everything we have to play.”

Bring on the Boilermakers.

This article was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAlbrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright
Jack Albright, Assistant Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a junior from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is an Assitant Sports Editor for the 2024-2025 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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