An afternoon matinee awaited Marquette (11-5, 2-3 Big East) and Villanova (11-5, 4-1 Big East) on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with both teams donning “The time is always right, to do what is right” shirts for warmups to honor the message of Dr. King.
With Marquette alumnus Dwyane Wade in the house to announce his incredible $3 million contribution to local literacy programs added scholarships, and a new practice gym for the city of Milwaukee, Marquette seemed primed to run off of the energy of the day and bounce back from their recent woes on the court. And that’s exactly what happened, as Marquette had their best shooting day of the season on their way to an 87-74 victory over the Wildcats of Villanova.
TK, Oso, and Kam were ON
The Marquette “Big 3” of Tyler Kolek, Oso Ighodaro, and Kam Jones have struggled of late, and as they go, the team goes. The team lost back-to-back games, but those efforts were put far behind their minds, as Marquette’s Big 3 combined for 61 of the team’s 87 points. Kolek dished a season-high 11 assists on his way to his third double-double of the season, Kam Jones led all Marquette scorers with 22 points on 83% shooting, and Oso Ighodaro could not be contained around the basket, rolling through the paint and mostly dunking his way to 18 points.
With injuries to Chase Ross and Sean Jones, opportunities for play have continued to open up for freshman Zaide Lowery, who added his usual intensity on defense and another pair of timely threes. The gang was back together for this one, and with the contributions of up-and-comers like Lowery, Marquette showed that they can put together a gaudy stat sheet against some of the toughest competition in the conference.
Kyle Neptune’s Villanova team didn't play a bad game offensively. The Wildcats shot over 47% from the field and hit 14 shots from deep at a clip of over 42%. Where they got dominated was in the paint, where Marquette outscored Villanova by a whopping 42 points, 60-18. Opportunities driving to and around the basket were available to Marquette all day, where the classic TK to Oso pick-and-roll was on full display, an alley-oop of excitement to get a certain Hall-of-Famer out of his seat. I mentioned a gaudy stat sheet? Marquette had a season-high 24 assists and just 3 turnovers. It's just hard to lose games with ratios like 24/3 and 60/18.
Overcoming injuries and shooting their way out of a midseason slump were huge wins for the Golden Eagles on Monday. On a day with so much positivity buzzing around the building, the timing couldn't have been better to begin to trend in the upward direction heading into a tough part of the Big East schedule, with six of their next eight games coming on the road, in what has been a glaring opportunity for Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles.
Marquette will head out to Queens to battle a likely underrated St. John’s team (12-5, 4-2 Big East), featuring one of the league’s top players, Joel Soriano, on Saturday at 12pm ET.