GAME NOTES: A pair of teams with wins in consecutive contests settle their differences on Saturday afternoon, as the Xavier Musketeers clash with the Marquette Golden Eagles in Big East Conference play at the Bradley Center.
Xavier collected wins over Providence (59-53) and Butler (64-50) in its last two games. The two victories came after a three-game losing streak for the Musketeers, who are still an impressive 17-7 overall, including a 7-4 mark in Big East action. They will host DePaul next.
Marquette also has two wins in its last two games, with triumphs over Butler (69-62) and Seton Hall (77-66). The Golden Eagles have still had their share of struggles this season, as they are 14-10 overall and a middling 6-5 in league play. Their 10-2 mark at home will be tested next time out as well, with 18th-ranked Creighton coming to town.
When this matchup was held at the Cintas Center on Jan. 9, the hometown Musketeers claimed an 86-79 victory. Xavier had lost two straight against Marquette prior to that meeting, the first between them as Big East foes. The Golden Eagles also lead the all-time series, 46-16.
Even on the road Xavier looked entirely comfortable in its win over Butler. The Musketeers knocked down 52.9 percent of their shots from the floor, while owning a 34-16 scoring advantage in the paint. Semaj Christon netted 15 points in the win.
Xavier may not be the most explosive offensive team in the Big East, ranking fourth in scoring (73.3 ppg), but they are one of the most efficient. The Musketeers are netting 47 percent from the field, which is the second-best mark in the conference. They also lead the league in rebounding (37.9 rpg). Christon (16.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) does much of the heavy lifting for the squad, with Dee Davis (7.4 ppg, 4.8 apg) a strong playmaker with his ability to set up his teammates. Matt Stainbrook (11.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg) patrols the interior, finishing on 52.1 percent of his attempts from the floor. Justin Martin (10.5 ppg) also figures in the mix.
Jamil Wilson scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Marquette topped Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles may have been outshot, 53.3 percent to 42.9 percent, but they willed themselves to the free-throw line all game, posting a 30-8 scoring advantage at the stripe.
Marquette is not as efficient an offensive team as Xavier (.442 FG percentage, 70.7 ppg). However, the Golden Eagles make up for it by clamping down on defense. They are allowing only 65.1 ppg on 40.6 percent shooting to their opposition. Davante Gardner (14.7 ppg, 6 rpg) has continued his reign as one of the best bench scorers in the Big East, leading the Golden Eagles, despite playing just 26.8 mpg as a reserve. Gardner tallied 16 points in the win over Butler. Wilson (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is the go-to option among the starting five.
If this game were held at a neutral site, Xavier would have the edge. However, the Golden Eagles' success at the Bradley Center mixed with their ability to slow foes down, makes them the favorite in this one.
Game Date and Time