College Basketball: Villanova at Marquette – Marquette Favored
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Marquette’s last four-game losing streak came three years ago. The Golden Eagles look to avoid matching that slide Monday night when they face Villanova at the Bradley Center for the first time.
The No. 12 Golden Eagles (21-7, 8-5 Big East) were upset 61-59 at home by Louisville on Saturday, as Jerry Smith made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to hand Marquette its third straight defeat. The Golden Eagles had won eight in a row, including three victories over ranked teams.
"It is a tough loss," guard Dominic James said. "We fought back early in the first half and into the second half and the game was kind of back and forth. We got out in front but it wasn’t far enough. It was an unbelievable atmosphere tonight with our fans. We need to continue to try and stay positive and get the next win."
The Golden Eagles, who squandered a seven-point lead with 3:33 to go, haven’t dropped four in a row since Feb. 3-18, 2004, when they competed in Conference USA.
The current slide started with a 76-58 loss at then-No. 22 Georgetown on Feb. 10. A 72-67 road defeat to DePaul followed Wednesday before the heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals.
The Golden Eagles can only blame themselves for the last two losses, as they shot 26-for-45 (58 percent) from the free-throw line in those games. Marquette was 12-of-13 in the Georgetown defeat, but its 64.2 free-throw shooting percentage on the season is second-worst in the Big East to Connecticut’s 63.0.
"The free throw is an Achilles’ heel at times," Marquette coach Tom Crean said after Saturday’s loss. "Tonight we missed some. The last thing we are going to do is quit attacking the basket and trying to get to the free-throw line."
James, who averages a team-best 15.1 points but was held to nine against Louisville, is shooting 62.5 percent (95-of-152) from the line and ranks among the worst foul shooters in the conference. The sophomore has also been misfiring from the field in the last five games, going 14-for-58 (24.1 percent), including 1-for-20 from 3-point range, and averaging just 8.8 points.
James looks to rebound with a repeat performance against the Wildcats, as he scored 15 points in a 72-67 loss on Feb. 4, 2006. That defeat came at the hands of a then-No. 4 Villanova squad that finished 28-5 and lost to eventual national champion Florida in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.
This Villanova team (18-8, 6-6) has a chance to qualify for the tournament, but had its four-game win streak snapped with a 68-66 loss to the No. 14 Hoyas on Saturday. Scottie Reynolds missed a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer after Jeff Green scored the go-ahead basket for Georgetown with 19.8 seconds left.
Villanova has lost its last three games against ranked opponents by an average of four points. The Wildcats are 2-4 against Top 25 teams this season, with both victories coming at home.
Villanova has been inconsistent on the road in conference play, alternating losses and wins through six games. The Wildcats defeated Seton Hall 78-69 on Feb. 10 in their last road contest.
Villanova is facing Marquette at the Bradley Center for the first time, but the Wildcats played three NCAA tournament games there in 1996 and 1999 – winning only once.
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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