NCAAB: Xavier hopes to hand No. 7 Marquette rare home loss

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Marquette hopes to continue enjoying the comforts of home when the seventh-ranked Golden Eagles host Xavier in a Big East matchup on Sunday in Milwaukee.

Marquette (20-6, 11-4 Big East) routed DePaul 105-71 on Wednesday night to improve to 12-1 at home. The Golden Eagles bounced back from an 81-53 shellacking at top-ranked UConn in their previous outing.

Xavier (13-13, 7-8) lost at home to Providence 79-75 on Wednesday. The Musketeers rallied with six consecutive points to pull within 77-75 with 24 seconds left before the Friars hit a pair of free throws to seal the outcome.

Marquette’s backcourt of Kam Jones and Tyler Kolek dominated DePaul. Jones poured in 34 points and sank eight 3-pointers, both career highs. Kolek dished out a school-record 18 assists.

The Golden Eagles, who rolled to a 30-point halftime lead, had four other players score in double figures. Marquette shot 59.5 percent and had 29-2 advantage in fastbreak points — a sharp contrast to the loss at UConn, which ended Marquette’s eight-game winning streak. The Huskies finished with a 16-5 edge in fastbreak points.

Marquette coach Shaka Smart said after the victory over DePaul, “There was a real seriousness coming into the game. We really believe in respecting our opponent no matter who it is and respecting what goes into winning.”

At UConn, Marquette trailed 42-26 at halftime, shot just 36.8 percent overall, was outscored 21-4 on second-chance points and gave up 17 points off turnovers.

Marquette averages 78.8 points while allowing 68.8. The Golden Eagles have struggled at times on the glass, being outrebounded by an average of 2.2 per game. At UConn, they were pounded 45-27 on the boards. In three losses earlier this season, they were outrebounded by 13 against Purdue, by 15 versus Wisconsin and by 18 against Seton Hall.

Kolek averages 7.6 assists, tied for the national lead, and 15.2 points. Jones adds 15.1 points, and Oso Ighodaro contributes 14.3 points and team-best 7.4 rebounds.

The Musketeers will hope to carry some momentum from their late comeback attempt against Providence. Xavier trailed 77-69 with three minutes left after the Friars scored nine unanswered points. Xavier rallied within two and then forced a turnover, but Desmond Claude missed a shot in the paint with six seconds left and Providence wrapped it up at the line.

Missed free throws hurt the Musketeers, who were just 14 of 23 on foul shots.

Xavier had four players in double figures against Providence, led by Claude, who had 17 of his 22 in the second half. Abou Ousmane added 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

“I thought tonight was a hard-fought Big East game. We weren’t good enough to win,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. “A couple stats, No. 1, you get to the free-throw line 23 times at home, we have to be better than 14-for-23. We just do. That’s nine points we left in a hard-fought game here in late February.”

The Musketeers, who average 75.7 points and allow 73.2, rank third in the nation with 16.65 fastbreak points per game.

Quincy Olivari averages a team-best 19.1 points, second in the Big East. Claude adds 16.1 and Devon McKnight 12.1. Ousmane leads with 6.5 boards per game.

Marquette has won eight of the past 11 meetings vs. Xavier, including 2 of 3 last season. They split a pair of regular-season games last year, with each winning at home, before the Golden Eagles defeated Xavier 65-51 in the title game of the Big East Conference tournament.

–Field Level Media

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