Coming off of a loss to Wisconsin, Marquette Basketball bounces back with a huge game from Tyler Kolek to rout Shaka Smart’s former Texas squad.
After a tough loss on the road to in-state rival Wisconsin on Saturday, the early-season schedule wouldn’t get any easier for Marquette as they returned home to Milwaukee to host #12 Texas on Wednesday. A game between two top-12 teams had an added layer of intrigue with Shaka Smart’s former employer in the building, but that’s about where it ended, as Marquette completely controlled the game and ran away with an 86-65 victory.
The final score didn’t indicate how lopsided the game really was, with Marquette extending the lead to as much as 32 in the second half. Shaka Smart had his team prepared and motivated from the tip, and the Golden Eagles came out with a fire that we just didn’t see in Madison. All-American point guard Tyler Kolek opened up the Marquette scoring, knocking down a shot from distance and screaming to the arena. The tone was set from there, as a determined Kolek began to take the game into his hands.
Kolek finished with a game-high 28 points on 69% shooting and added 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He was not only willing to take the open shots that Texas gave him, but he also displayed his innate ability to penetrate and get to the lane to create his own shots. Kolek would also influence those around him, where he consistently found his teammates across the Texas zone for open shots. Fluid and aggressive, it was an impactful reminder of why Kolek won the 2022-23 Big East Player of the Year and how dangerous the Golden Eagles can be when he’s on.
Kolek wasn’t the only one in the mix. Kam Jones continued to add consistent scoring with 17 points and going 5-8 from deep; Ben Gold once again showed high-percentage shooting from the outside; and sophomore guard Chase Ross continues to show vast improvement, impacting the game with an always-electric 12 points. In a group effort, Marquette also finally won the battle on the glass, outrebounding Texas 37-30. The discipline on the glass also translated to discipline on the defensive end, where Marquette held Texas to 41% shooting in a game where they didn’t allow the Longhorns to get to the foul line until the second half.
When asked in the postgame presser about what the win over his former team meant to him, Shaka Smart said, “(I) had six great years at Texas. I’m grateful for all the people that I got to spend time with and be around there, but I’m an in-the-moment guy…” Humble in response, Shaka clearly had his current team ready for his former, as they ran away with a huge win at home and showed that they can indeed bounce back and grow after a tough loss.
Next up for Marquette is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame on Saturday night, as the Golden Eagles try to remain perfect at Fiserv Forum.