In an impressive performance tonight, the Marquette Golden Eagles blew out the visiting St. John's Red Storm, 81-61. Marquette raised its record to 16-6 overall and 6-3 in the Big East.
Leading by three at the half, MU ripped off 13 straight points on the strength of four 3-pointers (three by Steve Novak, one of which was a four-point-play) to take a 48-36 lead. Novak hit consecutive 3-pointers immediately after the Red Storm took a brief lead at 36-35 on a pair of Daryll Hill free throws.
Novak led Marquette with 29 points and eight rebounds to go along with no turnovers in 38 minutes. Novak, bouncing back from two sub-par games, accounted for 23 of MU's first 48 points. Per the fine recap of the game at Marquette Hoops, SJU Coach Norm Roberts was impressed, “Novak was unbelievable tonight.....We have to give him credit for making some unbelievable shots tonight.”
Ousmane Barro delivered his best performance of the season with 10 points and 8 boards. Dominic James, clearly favoring his injured shoulder, scored 16 points. Jerel McNeal chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds.
MU's 52-point second half was keyed by exceptional perimeter shooting, strong work on the glass, and an impressive 22 points in the paint. During the second half, St John's managed only two offensive rebounds after claiming nine in the first half to keep the game close. 81 points is the most points surrendered by St. John's this season. The Red Storm lead the Big East in scoring defense.
For the game, MU shot 47% from the field, including 50% (9-18) from behind the arc. Given MU's recent struggles at the free throw line, tonight's 20-24 effort was also encouraging. MU held the Johnnies to just 41% from the field.
Marquette led 29-26 at the half on the strength of 13 first half points from Steve Novak. St John's hung around on the strength of a 16-6 scoring advantage in the first half. Marquette's first half was highlighted by the unexpected return of freshman Wesley Matthews. Matthews did not score tonight, but handed out four assists in 17 minutes of action (along with zero turnovers). Matthews returned two weeks ahead of schedule. Despite the absence of a starter through the first half of the conference season, MU remains the only CUSA addition with a winning record in Big East play.
MU led by as many as ten early, but St John's closed the half on a 16-7 run. St. John's entire first half was built around second-chance points - - only seven of the Red Storm's first 21 points were made from outside of the paint.
Comments from Tom Crean following the win against St. Johns, Courtesy of Marquette84:
- Learning experience the other day against Pittsburgh when they didn't take care of business at the end of the game. Learning experience then led to results tonight.
- St. Johns never stops playing--our guys had to grow up on the floor tonight. Lots of respect for St. Johns.
- MU really stepped up in the 2nd half. Disappoining play in the first half--scoring and rebounding--turned into 22 2nd half points in the paint, and only 2 St. John's offensive boards.
- Had to get to the line tonight--did that.
- Weren't doing a good job in the paint in the first half .
- 33 deflections 19 in 2nd half--"pretty good numbers."
- On Novak: He was very agressive to get open and get those looks. Getting healthier--great mindset, impressed with his with rebounding, impressed with his defense. Tonight he really looked for his shot. Every 1st half shot was a great shot. Teammates did a great job of finding him--they said it themselves, coaches didn't have to tell them. Steve has a bond with the young players
- On James: MU very respectful of St. Johns--have to match the toughness (responding to his exchange of elbows with an SJU player). Physical mentality in practice, came into the game as well.
- Didn't want to ease Wes back in. Got him right back in a game situation.
- Amo was out tonight with an undisclosed medical illness. MU staff helping any way they can. He's expected back in practice tomorrow. Expected in uniform and on the bench aginst Villanova. Can't say any more due to privacy laws.
- "Pain is weakness leaving the body" James did a great job in the game--playing on adreneline at the end of the game w/the dunk.
- Champan wanted to congratulate Wes for brining it back today.
- Fans tremedous--really stepped it up in the 2nd half.
- Nobody wants to lose on Al McGuire night.
Here is the early AP recap.
Here is the Newsday (NY) recap.
Here is the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recap.
Here is the GoMarquette recap.