Sat. Final: Marquette 94, G'Town 82
By Todd Welter
It might be tough to find anybody that is playing better basketball than Marquette's Jerel McNeal. McNeal scored 26 points and dished out 11 assists in Marquette's (No. 8 AP and ESPN/USA Today) 94-82 victory over Georgetown at the Bradley Center. McNeal has been making a habit of these type performances lately as he is averaging 23.9 points per game in his last eight games. So is there anybody out there playing better college basketball in the country right now?
"I am," teammate Wesley Matthews joked. "He [just] shoots it more than me."
Matthews could make a case as he scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half and has been averaging 19.1 points per game over the last eight games. Even he had to admit McNeal has taken his game to an elite level.
"He's playing well," Matthews thought. "Well is an understatement right now. That is a tribute to his work."
McNeal went 8-17 from the field and knocked down 5-10 three-pointers. McNeal also had six rebounds and five steals.
"I don't know if you could find a better line," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams felt. "He turned it over three times. If that number was zero, he might have been perfect today."
Always the humble one, McNeal felt his teammates deserve all the credit for his recent stretch of play.
"It is more my teammates than anything to be honest," McNeal said. "Things are so much easier for me when other guys are playing well and other guys are locked in. That gives me the ability to just to freelance and not have to worry about making up for other guys who aren't doing what they need to be doing."
Although McNeal did admit Matthews would not want any part in a game of one-on-one between the two.
Marquette (19-2, 8-0 Big East) extended its winning streak to 11 games and remain undefeated in Big East play. The Hoyas (12-8, 3-6 Big East) have lost their last five.
Physical play and a lot of scoring can best sum up this game. The game had eight players in double figures and both teams with shooting percentages above 50%. Marquette shot 52% from the field and hit 10-22 three-pointers. Lazar Hayward added 23 points while Dominic James had 10 points.
The Hoyas shot 56.1% from the field and made 10-20 three-pointers. DaJuan Summers, who almost did not play with an ankle injury, led Georgetown with 22 points.
The only difference between the offenses was Marquette got to the free throw line while Georgetown could not. The Golden Eagles got 38 free throw attempts while Georgetown had just 13. The Golden Eagles made the most of their opportunities as they shot 79% from the line.
Georgetown started the game off with a fast pace as it shot a red hot 65% from the field in the first half. Georgetown used 10-2 run midway through the half to go up by 10. The Golden Eagles came back with a 14-4 run to grab their first lead of the game with 6:59 left in the half. The half closed out with the game tied at 42.
The Golden Eagles broke the game open midway through the second half with a 19-6 run that gave the Golden Eagles a 13-point lead with 8:10 left. Georgetown's hot shooting stroke cooled off down the stretch as the Hoyas were unable to cut Marquette's lead to single digits until it was too late.
"In the second half, we were a much different team although the numbers don't necessarily reflect it," Williams thought. "They still shot 52% in the second half. That typically does not trend towards winning the game but because we were able to out-rebound them and make 30 free throws that changes complexion of the game."
The Golden Eagles will travel south down I-94 Tuesday night to face DePaul.
Hayward scored his 1,000th career point to start the game. He is the 41st Marquette player to score over 1,000 points...McNeal moved into third place on Marquette's all-time scoring list. McNeal (1,705 points) needs 69 points to pass George Thompson (1,773 points) as Marquette's all-time leading scorer....Marquette and North Carolina are the only schools that currently have four 1,000 point career scorers on their active rosters...Chris Wright (19 points), Greg Monroe (13 points), and Austin Freeman (12 points) were the three other Hoyas to register double figures...The announced attendance was 19,041.