Busting Brackets

Marquette Basketball: Golden Eagles Outlast Providence to Advance to Big East Tournament Final

Marquette showed resiliency Friday night at Madison Square Garden, holding off a late surge from Providence in the semifinal and earning their way into the Big East Tournament Final.

Providence v Marquette
Providence v Marquette / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Both Marquette and Providence had to endure hard-fought wins in their quarterfinal matchups in the Big East Tournament. Providence upset the #2 seed, Creighton, on Thursday, while Marquette survived an overtime thriller over Villanova. It’s always special to reach Friday night in the Big East Tournament, and with UConn coming off the floor with a victory over St. John’s in Friday night’s opener to secure a spot in the final, Marquette headed out to try to meet them to further defend their Big East Championship. 

Once again, without their star point guard Tyler Kolek, Marquette would have to play through Kam Jones and Oso Ighodaro. Much was said about Ighodaro’s 4-points-on-four-shots performance in Marquette’s quarterfinal win over Villanova, but Friday night would tell a different story, with Ighodaro coming out and scoring the first basket of the game, setting the stage for what would be a common theme of the evening. 

Marquette would have a much better shooting night than they had in the quarterfinal on Thursday, and this was apparent right out of the gate. The Golden Eagles not only got big makes from the outside from David Joplin, Kam Jones, and Zaide Lowery; they also got easy points in the paint through Ighodaro and a slashing Kam Jones. Providence, playing their third game in three days, struggled with help defense, and Marquette took advantage of any fatigue to the tune of 55% shooting in the first half. Marquette would lead by as many as 17 in the opening half, with three different players reaching double figures, including 12 points from a resurgent Ighodaro. Providence would go on a short 7-0 spurt to keep the game manageable, and Marquette took an 11-point lead into the break. 

Physical Big East basketball would show its face in the second half. Hard fouls, stonewall screens, and diving for loose balls, players were picking themselves up off the floor for the next twenty minutes. With Marquette maintaining a double-digit lead, things began to get heated between Marquette’s Kam Jones and Big East Player of the Year Devin Carter after a tripping foul from Carter sent Jones to the floor. After a short altercation at midcourt, Providence gathered some momentum and cut the Marquette lead to five with under ten minutes to play. The Garden never disappoints. 

Although they led by as many as 17, Marquette did a great job of maintaining the lead all game long and doing just enough to stay out ahead by not letting Providence get all the way back. Oso Ighodaro, a 63% free-throw shooter on the season, was a perfect 4-4 from the line down the stretch and hit another two big buckets in the waning minutes to keep the advantage at two possessions. Marquette showed the poise of a Big East champion down the stretch and earned their way into this year’s final by shutting down Providence in the final minutes and securing a 79-68 win and a date with UConn in the 2024 Big East Tournament final. 

Marquette would shoot an efficient 8-15(53%) from three and 19-24(79%) from the line in the victory. Kam Jones led all Marquette scorers with 23, followed by Oso Ighodaro with 20 points and David Joplin with 12. Once again, the scrappy Stevie Mitchell led the team in rebounds with 8, and Kam Jones stepped in for 3 steals. 

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Marquette looks for their first win of the season over UConn in their third meeting and a chance to win the school's first ever back-to-back Big East Tournament titles on Saturday at Madison Square Garden at 6:30pm ET on FS1. Tyler Kolek is still doubtful to play.