Blowing Out The Comp

Marquette will try to avoid becoming the second straight ranked team to have its winning streak snapped at Villanova when the No. 25 Golden Eagles visit the Wachovia Center on Monday.

After a 78-48 blowout of Rutgers on Saturday, Marquette (20-6, 10-5 Big East) has won four straight games by an average of more than 20 points.

But Villanova (17-9, 7-7) was responsible for ending then-No. 13 Connecticut's 10-game winning streak with a 67-65 home win over the Huskies on Saturday, and the surging Wildcats have now won three straight games to play their way back onto the bubble for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Marquette -2 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Marquette -2 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Marquette is already all but assured of a spot in the 65-team field, but that won't stop the Golden Eagles from seeking their fifth straight win heading into a showdown with Big East co-leader Georgetown on Saturday.

They have scored at least 72 points and allowed no more than 64 in each game of their current winning streak, and they forced 23 turnovers in each of their last two games.

Against Rutgers, that translated into a 35-4 edge on fast break points, as they shot a season-best 56.1 percent from the field and had four starters score in double figures.

"Our defense was by far our best offense," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "When you've got that going, you have an opportunity to be really good."

Lazar Hayward led the offense with 15 points, but Jerel McNeal started the breaks with five steals, also adding 14 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

"Defense, rebounding, running and sharing the ball; when we are at our pace, we're tough to beat," said Marquette's Wesley Matthews, who had 12 points. "Everyone has to get involved."

Golden Eagles guard Dominic James, who hasn't missed a game in his career at Marquette, is expected to play Monday despite injuring his ankle against the Scarlet Knights.

He was hurt after a collision with Rutgers center Byron Joynes late in the first half, but returned after halftime and finished with 13 points and six assists.

"He knows he's one of the leaders on this team," Matthews said. "You can't show pain, you can't show that you're hurt or down or anything like that when you're looked at upon like he is."

Scottie Reynolds has been the leader for Villanova. The sophomore had 18 points against Connecticut as the Wildcats won for the fourth time in five games, with the only loss a two-point defeat at then-No. 8 Georgetown on Feb. 11.

Villanova had lost its previous five games before beginning its current run.

"Coach (Jay Wright) kept telling us we were going to be good," said Reynolds, who averages 16.4 points. "Even when we were struggling, he would tell us to keep our heads up because things were going to turn around."

Villanova starts two freshmen and doesn't have a senior on the roster, but the Wildcats are starting to mature. Freshman reserve Corey Stokes had a season-high 18 points against the Huskies, and has shot 10-of-20 from 3-point range in the last three games.

"This is what coaching is all about," Wright said. "We knew we'd get there. We knew we were going to be good."

The Wildcats have also won three straight at home, where they are 11-2 this season. Marquette is just 4-4 on the road, and lost 72-67 at then-No. 4 Villanova two seasons ago in their only visit as a Big East opponent.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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