Trying to Move up

A pair of dominant wins helped Marquette return to the Top 25. Another convincing victory can help it move up.

The 25th-ranked Golden Eagles look to continue their climb within the poll whey they play St. John's on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Marquette –7.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Marquette –7.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

For the first time this season, Marquette (18-6, 8-5 Big East) fell out of the Associated Press' Top 25 rankings last week after a pair of losses to conference No. 22 Notre Dame and then-unranked Louisville earlier this month.

It didn't take long for the Golden Eagles to jump back in. Marquette posted an 89-64 win at Seton Hall on Feb. 12, then followed it up with a 72-54 upset victory at home over then-No. 22 Pittsburgh on Friday.

Center Ousmane Barro had 14 points and 12 rebounds, while reserve David Cubillan added 13 for Marquette, which improved to 13-1 at home. The Golden Eagles also got a boost from guard Dominic James, who had a career-high 12 assists without a turnover.

"Once he is playing like that, this is a team that is impossible to stop," said Jerel McNeal, who led Marquette with 17 points.

James was 2-for-11 from the field on Friday and is 20-of-61 in the his last six games as he has been bothered by a wrist injury. Still, the junior is third on the team with a 12.9 point-per-game average and a team-high 4.4 assists.

"That passing really is a gift from God," Golden Eagles coach Tom Crean said. "He's one of the best defenders in the country. He's been playing injured. He works and rehabs and he's a big-time player."

James and the Golden Eagles now visit St. John's (10-14, 4-9), looking for their seventh consecutive win in the series and ninth in 14 overall. Marquette, which is 3-4 on the road this season, has won three of four all-time meetings at MSG, including a 76-67 decision on March 3 in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

St. John's - which has lost back-to-back games and is just 3-8 since Jan. 8 - has dropped four of five at home, including a 60-42 defeat to Villanova on Saturday. The Red Storm struggled from the field, shooting just 25.5 percent (13-for-51) for the second straight game.

"It was three things," said guard Malik Boothe, who had six points. "We weren't hitting shots, we were turning the ball over and they were out-toughing us and getting rebounds. Sometimes that's just the way things go."

Anthony Mason Jr., who leads St. John's with 13.5 points per game, had 12 and nine rebounds in his first game after missing the previous three with an ankle injury.

Last year, Mason Jr. had 19 points and eight boards in the defeat to Marquette, which has not lost to St. John's since 1966.

"Marquette is a veteran team," Red Storm coach Norm Roberts said. "They are strong and physical. They try to pressure you and physically take you out of what you want to do."

St. John's has lost both games versus Top 25 teams this season, and is just 1-9 versus ranked foes since the start of 2006-07. Four of the Red Storm's final six opponents are currently ranked by the AP.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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