Marquette University celebrated National Marquette Day on Saturday, with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams in action in Milwaukee. After the women dropped a close one to Villanova down the road at the Al McGuire Center, the men looked to even the day against visiting St. John’s at Fiserv Forum. With the arena full of fans in a “stripe-out” of Marquette colors, the Golden Eagles pushed past St. John’s behind a huge second half and a huge night from Tyler Kolek. Fiserv Forum set yet another Marquette attendance record, and perhaps a decibel record, as Marquette went on to beat St. Johns, 86-75.
Marquette escaped with a one-point victory over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden back on January 20th, a game that Marquette held on to win through the power of their big-3. Relying on experience yet again, head coach Shaka Smart played each of his starters over 25 minutes, with Tyler Kolek leading the way with 38 minutes on the floor. Those 38 minutes led to 27 points and 13 assists for Kolek, accounting for over 60% of Marquette’s points.
When asked in the postgame presser about tying a career-high with five 3-pointers, Kolek said, “...I’m just trusting my work, trusting the process, and just letting it fly.” Making good use of spacing against a forgiving Red Storm defense, Kolek was able to have his way both on the outside and driving to the basket. St. John’s didn't have an answer for Kolek, especially during Marquette’s near-perfect second half.
A tale of two halves, St. John’s led Marquette at halftime by nine, behind a rebound advantage of 11 and a 17-0 advantage on second-chance points. Even without double-double machine Joel Soriano playing much of a factor due to foul trouble, St. John’s dominated the glass and held momentum into the break. But the tide shifted in the second session as Marquette came out with full court pressure, checkmarking their defensive staples: deflections and kills. With the record-setting crowd behind them, the Golden Eagles found space within the Red Storm defense and knocked down 59% of their shots and 53% of their threes, each one louder than the previous as Marquette evened the game, and after five ties and eleven lead changes, pushed ahead to a double-digit victory.
Stevie Mitchell continued to show up in the right place at the right time to a tune of 14 points, and David Joplin and Kam Jones also finished in double figures. Oso Ighodaro added 9 points and 7 rebounds. St. John’s point guard Daniss Jenkins, one of the best guards in the country, was tough to slow down, leading the Red Storm with 22 points.
Marquette improves to 18-5 overall and 9-3 in the Big East as they head out to Indianapolis for redemption against Butler, who handed the Golden Eagles their only home loss of the season back in early January. Tip-off at Hinkle Fieldhouse is Tuesday 6:30 p.m. ET on FS1.