GAME NOTES: A couple of Big East Conference schools with identical overall records get together in the World's Most Famous Arena this afternoon, as the Marquette Golden Eagles meet up with the St. John's Red Storm.
Sporting an even record in conference play after eight decisions, the Golden Eagles are attempting to win back-to-back games for the first time in six weeks. The squad has been alternating wins and losses for the last 11 outings, with the most recent outcome being a 61-50 victory over Providence two nights ago at home.
As for the Red Storm, they put up a fight against 20th-ranked Creighton earlier this week but came up just short in a 63-60 final on the road. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for a St. John's team which had suffered through a five-game slide recently.
Marquette owns a 15-6 advantage in the all-time series and has won six of the seven meetings between the teams while both being members of the Big East. The teams are also slated to close out the regular season against each other next month at the Bradley Center.
Marquette scored the first points of the night against the Friars and never looked back, holding the visitors to a minuscule 14 points in the first half. Granted, the offense for the Golden Eagles was far from forceful, particularly the starting five which combined for only 31 points. Davante Gardner tallied a team-best 14 points off the bench and Jamil Wilson tacked on 11 as the hosts shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and 3-of-13 beyond the arc.
A starter in just six games this season, Gardner is still the leading scorer for the Golden Eagles with his 14.9 ppg, accounting for 6.2 rpg which is also tops on the unit. Wilson pitches in with 11.8 ppg and is second in both rebounding (5.3 rpg) and total assists (55), but his mere 28.1 percent shooting beyond the arc has served to bring the entire team down to only 29.7 percent.
The Red Storm made just 1-of-10 shots behind the 3-point line against Creighton at CenturyLink Center Omaha, and still the visitors lost by just three points as Doug McDermott (39 points) nailed a trey with 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation for the home team. D'Angelo Harrison led four SJU players in double figures with his 15 points, followed by Chris Obekpa and Rysheed Jordan with 11 points each and JaKarr Sampson 10 and six rebounds.
In conference games, the Red Storm are producing a decent 68.9 ppg, although they are giving up 71.6 ppg to opponents who have outscored them by a collective 58 points at the free-throw line over eight games. Harrison, just 35.3 percent accurate from the floor, is in with 16.0 ppg and Sampson adds another 12.0 ppg to go along with 6.1 rpg, but between the pair they've managed to hand out only 16 assists in more than 500 combined minutes.
No longer one of the leading squads in the Big East, the Golden Eagles are a team that can be handled if everything falls into place for St. John's today. The early start and the home court advantage should give the Red Storm a leg up for sure.
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