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Marquette Wire

No. 11 Marquette needs to end its recent decline after second straight loss

Photo by Katie Craig
No. 11 Marquette men’s basketball is on a two-game losing streak and sits 2-3 in Big East play.

Shaka Smart sat at the podium inside the Fiserv Forum press conference room Wednesday night, minutes after No. 11 Marquette men’s basketball’s 69-62 loss to Butler.

His head hung low and his voice had a toneless solemnity to it.

“A really, really strange and disappointing game,” he said.

As Smart came to grips with the fact his team lost two straight games for the first time since the 2021-22 season, and the Golden Eagles’ 20-game home win streak against Big East opponents ended, he did not shy away from the reality of the situation: something needs to change before Marquette’s recent decline gets even worse.

“The first thing is understanding it’s a long season. And we’ve played a quarter of our biggest games and we’ve not played as well as we want to play obviously,” Smart said.

“We’ve not gotten the results that we want to get through five games in the Big East. And at the same time, it’s on us and no one else to respond.”

Just over a month ago, the Golden Eagles (11-5, 2-3 Big East) were the No. 3 team in the country fresh off a successful Maui Invitational, in which they beat then-No. 1 Kansas before narrowly falling to then-No. 2 Purdue in the championship.

Now, they have as many Big East losses as they did in the entirety of conference play last season, sit out of the AP Poll Top 10 for the first time this year and will drop even further in next week’s rankings.

The Golden Eagles went 24-for-73 (32.9%) from the field and a season-worst 5-for-31 (16.1%) on 3-pointers against Butler. Their only worse overall shooting performance was 18-for-56 (32.1%), which came in their 72-57 loss at Providence.

The poor shooting has dropped Marquette all the way to No. 50 in offensive efficiency on basketball statistics website

In the Golden Eagles’ last two defeats, All-American point guard Tyler Kolek scored seven points, shooting 2-for-19 overall and 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.

“The biggest thing that he needs to do, and we need to do, I need to help him with, is understanding that certain things are not going to be made easy for you,” Smart said. “And when times get hard and things get hard … It’s getting back to, ‘Here’s who I am when I’m at my best, this is who we are when we’re at our best,’ and trusting in that.”

Junior guard Kam Jones has been cold from beyond the arc in recent games, having gone 8-for-42 (19%) on 3-pointers in Big East games.

“We’re gonna have to work together. And me and the rest of us to help him have the belief and the presence to shoot the ball,” Smart said in reference to Jones’ shooting since the start of conference play.

Marquette desperately needs a win to stop the bleeding, and one can come Monday afternoon against Villanova (11-5, 4-1 Big East) at Fiserv Forum.

But, without Chase Ross, who will be re-evaluated later this month with a shoulder injury, and Sean Jones — who is out for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against Butler — the Golden Eagles’ depth has taken a big hit.

“That’s two very, very important pieces for us that will not be able to be on the floor,” Smart said.

Ross and Jones have been Marquette’s two biggest bench sparks this season — and the only two non-starting sophomore guards. In their absence, first-years Zaide Lowery and Tre Norman and the rest of the starters will have to step up.

“Nobody’s gonna feel sorry for us. The schedule doesn’t get easier. And it is a great opportunity,” Smart said. “Adversity is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity. And that’s the first thing that Tyler (Kolek) and the rest of us need to do, is embrace that.

“And if we’re willing to do that, then we’ll get past it and we’ll get better from it. And we’ll be able to look back at a game like this, and it’ll help us be who we need to be. But first, we need to come to a point of acceptance with what really happened (Wednesday).”

If the Golden Eagles lose to the Wildcats Monday, it will be the first time they’ve dropped three straight games since Dec. 21, 2021.

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

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About the Contributors
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.
Katie Craig
Katie Craig, Staff Photographer
Katie is a Staff Photographer at the Wire. She is a first-year from Lakeville, MN studying digital media and minoring in advertising. In her free time, Katie enjoys photography and hanging out with her friends. This year Katie is looking forward to getting to know more people and improving her photography skills.

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