After clinching the Big East regular-season title with a win over Butler on Tuesday night, No. 6 Marquette will finish its highly successful regular season Saturday against visiting conference foe St. John’s in Milwaukee.
The Golden Eagles (24-6, 16-3) have won five straight games and 10 of their past 11.
Marquette cruised to a 72-56 road victory against Butler behind Tyler Kolek’s third double-double of the season — 21 points and 10 assists. Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 14 points and five rebounds and Oso Ighodaro scored 12 points.
“These guys have been committed to each other, pulling for each other, staying connected,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said on the FS1 broadcast after the win. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming in here, but this was one of our best defensive games of the year. It feels good to say Marquette is Big East champions.”
St. John’s (17-13, 7-12) hasn’t played since last Saturday, when it beat then-No. 18 UConn 95-86. The Red Storm had four players score in double figures, led by AJ Storr’s 20 points and Posh Alexander’s 18.
“Our guys never let go of the rope; they kept scratching and clawing,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “We’ve played everyone in our league. I think we can beat anyone and anyone can beat us. That’s my message to our guys.”
Marquette is led in scoring by Kam Jones at 15 points per game while Kolek, a top candidate for Big East Player of the Year honors, averages 12.6 points and is second in the nation in assists at 7.9. Oso Ighodaro leads the team in rebounding (5.9) and blocks (1.6).
For the Red Storm, Joel Soriano is averaging a double-double with team highs of 15.3 points and 11.8 rebounds. Alexander leads the squad with averages of 4.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
On the injury front, Marquette’s Emarion Ellis has not played this season due to a stress fracture in his knee and originally was expected to make his season debut around the beginning of March, but his status is uncertain for the remainder of the season.
Saturday will be the second of two matchups between Marquette and St. John’s this season. Marquette won the first meeting 96-85 on the road on Jan. 3, led by Prosper’s 29 points.
Both teams are locked into their seed for the Big East tournament next week and could match up again in the event in New York City.
Marquette will get a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed and play Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 8 seed St. John’s and No. 9 Butler.
–Field Level Media