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Marquette Wire

Tyler Kolek commands No. 7 Golden Eagles to 86-75 victory

Tyler+Kolek+finished+Marquettes+86-75+win+over+St.+Johns+with+27+points%2C+13+assists+and+seven+rebounds.
Photo by Katie Craig
Tyler Kolek finished Marquette’s 86-75 win over St. John’s with 27 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

Tyler Kolek turned around and flashed three fingers as he shuffled back down the court.

Everyone and their mothers knew what it meant, what just happened.

The trash-talking, dime-dishing, lights-out shooting All-American point guard had fired the last 3-pointer loaded in his six-shooter and had to add some flair to the moment.

So he opened his hand and… one, two, three.

He by no means needed to make the basket to win — his previous 24 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds had already secured No. 7 Marquette men’s basketball’s victory — but try telling him that.

“It’s just one-on-one, I gotta go make a play,” Kolek said. “So that’s what I did.”

His 3-pointer was the exclamation point on an 86-75 comeback win over St. John’s Saturday at Fiserv Forum on National Marquette Day.

“This is one of Tyler Kolek’s best games that he’s ever played at Marquette,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “He completely orchestrated everything that we did.”

The Golden Eagles’ conductor didn’t wave the baton with ferocity in the first half — putting up only five points — but once he ended the opening 20 minutes and started the final 20 minutes with a three, it sounded like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

“Tyler, he’s got a flair for just understanding that these things are going to work for me if I’m really, really aggressive,” Smart said. “And I thought he attacked.”

He hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half to cut the Red Storm’s lead down to one point, 51-50. He dished back-to-back assists on 3-pointers to cut the lead to one again, 59-58. He assisted Chase Ross’ three to take the lead, 67-65.

After that, St. John’s would get so close as to tie, but would never re-gain the advantage.

Golden Eagles dominate the glass in final half

Marquette (18-5, 9-3 Big East) might have been lucky to go into the locker room down only nine points, 47-38.

The Red Storm (14-10, 6-7 Big East) had dominated the boards the entire opening half by out-rebounding the Golden Eagles 23-12 overall and 11-2 on the offensive glass. It amounted to 17 second-chance points for St. John’s, while Marquette had zero.

“I thought, on a scale of 1-10 in the first half, our toughest level on the glass was below five,” Smart said. “So that needed to change, that was talked about in the locker room.”

The second half was almost the exact opposite of the first.

The Golden Eagles “made an eyeball contract” and spent the final 20 minutes out-rebounding the Red Storm 21-12.

“They said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to go down by somebody bullying us,’ and they stepped forward,” Smart said. “Our guys have a lot of pride. They have a lot of character. And they found that tonight in the second.”

Stevie Mitchell continues to score necessary points

Junior guard Stevie Mitchell’s “glue guy” stock can’t go much higher.

In five of the last six games for Marquette, Mitchell has put up double-digit points. He finished Saturday with a season-high 14, all coming in the second half.

“His impact. Whatever it says on here — they give me all the stats after the game, advanced analytics — can’t measure it,” Smart said. “His impact is immeasurable because he’s such a domino. He’s such a domino for his teammates, such a domino for the crowd.

“I think Homer called him Hall of Fame pest. It’s a great way to describe him.”

Whether it was his 3-pointer a few minutes into the second half to cut St. John’s lead, or his steal-and-score followed by another layup with 5:27 left in the game to keep the Red Storm at bay, the Golden Eagles needed everything he gave in his 25 minutes on the court.

“I wore my Stevie Mitchell glue guy merchandise two days ago,” Kolek said. “I love playing with him. He’s a winning guy. I always tell him he makes every winning play for us.”

Up next

The Golden Eagles will head to Indianapolis to face the Butler Bulldogs (16-8, 7-6 Big East) Tuesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 5:30 p.m. CST. Butler beat Marquette 69-62 Jan. 10 at Fiserv Forum.

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, Executive Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a sophomore from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is the Executive Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 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, 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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    Liz AllenFeb 10, 2024 at 10:10 pm

    I love the MU Wire coverage. Strong reporting, good quotes, great narrative.

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