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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Kam Jones nets 34 points for second straight game in 88-64 win over Xavier

Photo by Forster Goodrich
Kam Jones passes the ball to Oso Ighodaro (13) in Marquette’s 88-64 win over Xavier.

Every box was checked.

Tyler Kolek got his prescribed 10 assists. Kam Jones had his second-straight lights-out shooting performance. Stevie Mitchell played like a Big East Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The Golden Eagles played swarming defense and hit their 32-deflection goal.

The myriad of factors that culminate into a Marquette (21-6, 12-4 Big East) win all came together at the right time, in the right way, leading to the No. 7 Golden Eagles’ 88-64 victory over the Musketeers (13-14, 7-9 Big East).

“Really happy for Kam to get 34 points on his birthday,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “Tyler moving the ball around the way that he does is something that we’ll never ever take for granted. I thought Stevie again spearheaded our defensive approach, which was really big.”

But it wasn’t immediately that Marquette started to cross off its bucket-list items.

The Musketeers spent the first nine minutes trading buckets with the Golden Eagles and keeping pace, but then the floodgates opened.

Marquette pieced together a 9-0 run and held Xavier scoreless for five minutes to take a 25-18 lead.

“We had a flurry of deflections during that stretch,” Smart said, “where we were able to extend the lead, and I always feel like that is a good indicator of overall energy.”

Marquette closed the half with five straight defensive stops to take what was its biggest lead of the game, 36-26.

Out of the locker room, the Golden Eagles went on an early 10-0 run to extend their advantage to 46-28 and cruise away with the victory.

Kam Jones ties his career-high on his birthday

Sunday marked the second game in a row in which Jones scored 34 points, but it was also the second year in a row in which he played on his birthday.

Last year, Marquette hosted DePaul on Jones’ 21st and he scored 22 points. But it wasn’t as good as Smart thought he could play.

“He (Smart) brought up last year’s game and he was like, ‘Last year we was up 24 at halftime, we won by 11.’ Then he pointed at me and was like ‘You had 22 points at halftime and didn’t p— a drop in the second half,'” Jones said.

Jones had gained a year of experience, though, and wasn’t going to let history repeat itself on his 22nd.

At halftime, the junior guard had 16 points to his name, and he beat that number, scoring 18 in the second half.

“That motivated me to go out and stay aggressive,” Jones said.

He finished shooting 11-for-17 from the field and 6-for-10 from deep, also grabbing two rebounds and two steals.

“He’s present. It sounds really oversimplified, but you can’t be good when you’re in the past or in the future, mentally,” Smart said.

“When you are here in the moment, and the ball comes to you and you can shoot the ball like him, or attack and finish around the basket like him, then great things are gonna happen.”

Marquette’s defense silences Xavier’s guards

The Musketeers ‘Big Three’ of Desmond Claude, Quincy Olivari and Dayvion McKnight average 47 points per game. Wednesday, they finished with a combined 24.

Olivari scored 14, McKnight put up 10 and Claude finished with zero points, shooting 0-for-8 overall and 0-for-2 from beyond the arc.

“We did a nice job to tonight making them inefficient, which is not easy to do,” Smart said.

The Golden Eagles run a switch-heavy defense, which means smaller guards often find themselves needing to defend bigs and vice versa.

“That (switching) was a huge part of our ability to defend in this game. We do not have the biggest and strongest team but one thing we do have good versatility with our taller guys,” Smart said. “Oso and Ben (Gold), were very, very good when they got switched on to their guards, and their guards are a handful…

“Switching, there’s pros and cons of it. But with our group, it makes sense because we do have that versatility with those bigger guys. And then our guards, they just try to fight for their life when they get switched on the bigger guys.”

Mitchell is a prime example of the latter, and was again Sunday, trapping the post aggressively and not giving any Musketeer an inch of breathing room.

“Stew, as always, man he’s a hound, he’s a pest, he’s annoying,” Jones said. “I’m very, very grateful he’s on our team.”

Up next

Marquette finishes off its three-game homestand against Providence (18-9, 9-7 Big East) Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum at 6 p.m. CST. The Golden Eagles fell to the Friars 72-57 in their last matchup in December.

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.
Forster Goodrich, Staff Photographer
Forster Goodrich is a sophomore from Lyme, New Hampshire studying digital media. Forster works on the photography desk as a Staff Photographer. Outside of the Wire, he is on the club waterski team, and enjoys everything outdoors. He is looking forward to the upcoming basketball season and getting to photograph games at Fiserv Forum.

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