12 vs. 13

Villanova, PA - Last month's victory over Villanova propelled Marquette to a lengthy run of success in Big East play. Another would prevent the Golden Eagles from a possible run in the wrong direction.

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No. 10 Marquette won't have it easy on the road Tuesday night in hoping to bounce back from its first conference loss while trying to snap the No. 13 Wildcats' five-game winning streak.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Villanova –4.5 point spread favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Marquette. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 59% of more than 215 bets for this game have been placed on the Villanova –4.5.

Marquette's run as the lone undefeated team in the Big East ended with a 57-56 loss at South Florida on Friday. It was the first road loss for the Golden Eagles (20-3, 9-1) and dropped them into a tie with Louisville for second in the Big East - one-half game behind Connecticut.

With Marquette riding a 12-game winning steak, facing struggling South Florida didn't seem to present cause for concern. The Golden Eagles, though, shot 4-for-24 on 3-point attempts and 10-of-23 from the foul line.

"That's as poor as we have played,'' said first-year Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whose team has not lost consecutive games. "They earned the victory. We earned the loss. It's hard to win games when you shoot the way we did.''

At 46.9 percent, the Golden Eagles are among the top shooting teams in the Big East and must prove that against Villanova (19-4, 7-3), which is holding opponents to 38.5 percent.

Marquette shot 46 percent and went 10-for-24 from beyond the arc to overcome 19 turnovers in its 79-72 home win over the Wildcats on Jan. 1 in the league opener.

Jerel McNeal had 24 points, while backcourt mates Wesley Matthews added 19 and Dominic James 17 for the Golden Eagles in that contest.

"Those guys are fun to watch, and they just controlled the game," Villanova coach Jay Wright said after the Wildcats dropped their third in a row to the Golden Eagles. "Veteran guards win in college basketball, and those guys were big-time.''

No one may be hotter than McNeal, who is averaging 20.0 points on the season and 24.7 in his last seven contests. The 6-foot-3 senior had 22 against South Florida, leaving him 20 shy of the school record of 1,773 career points set by George Thompson from 1966-69.

Reaching that milestone won't be easy against Villanova, which is 12-1 at home but carries a 25-game winning streak at the Pavilion - its on-campus arena - into this contest.

The Wildcats have won their last two games at home against ranked opponents, beating then-No. 3 Pittsburgh 67-57 at home on Jan. 28 and then-No. 20 Syracuse 102-85 on Saturday.

Villanova last won six in a row in the Big East during the 2005-06 season, when it won 11 straight.

Forward Dante Cunningham matched a career high with 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Syracuse. The Wildcats shot 54.5 percent and reached 100 points for the second time this season.

Cunningham, who averages team highs with 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds, has posted double-doubles in his last two contests. The 6-8 senior had 16 and eight boards against Marquette last month.

"Dante is learning how to be a really confident offensive player,'' Wright said.

Villanova sophomore guard Corey Fisher came off the bench for a team-leading 21 points in the last meeting with Marquette.

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Posted: 2/10/09 3:00AM ET


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