Marquette coach Tom Crean was pleased with the way his team responded in its last game after a week layoff. Now he’s looking to get the Golden Eagles accustomed to playing a much busier schedule.
Tenth-ranked Marquette (7-1) takes on Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne on Monday looking to continue its impressive run.
The Golden Eagles showed no signs of a letdown after their biggest win of the season, 81-76 at Wisconsin on Dec. 8. They scored the first 14 points in Saturday’s 82-51 victory over Sacramento State, placing five players in double figures.
Jerel McNeal had 13 points while Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward each added 12 for Marquette, which has won three straight since losing to No. 6 Duke in the final of the Maui Invitational.
“They’ve had a long week, it’s been like football, we’ve had three straight weeks, three games, that’s a tough deal,” said Crean, also referring to the fact that Marquette had just completed finals week. “To come out and play with that kind of intensity … I’m proud of them.”
With the light schedule since Maui, Crean purposely scheduled a quick turnaround for this game since the Golden Eagles will also play two games in three days three times during Big East play in January and February.
Dominic James had only eight points Saturday, but did a standout job against Sacramento State top scorer Loren Leath, limiting him to two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Crean noted that James’ all-around play shows his team is responding to the lessons being applied in practice.
“These guys are getting better, they work at such a high rate,” said Crean, whose team also hosts Coppin State and Savannah State at home before opening Big East play Jan. 3 at home against Providence. “That’s kind of what I’m focused on, and I want them focused on the same thing.”
McNeal leads the team with 15.4 points per game, followed by James (14.5) and Hayward (12.5). Marquette, which has had at least four players score in double figures in each of its eight games, is averaging 80.4 points and shooting 49.6 percent.
IPFW (4-5) is playing its second ranked team in three days after losing 79-57 at No. 9 Michigan State on Saturday. Jakari Johnson scored 17 points and Jaraun Burrows added 15 and 10 rebounds, but the Mastodons committed a season-high 22 turnovers as their three-game winning streak was snapped.
The Mastodons - 0-6 against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2001-02 season - are 0-4 on the road, averaging just 57.3 points and shooting 34.1 percent from 3-point range. IPFW is scoring 73.1 points per game and making 40.1 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc overall.
Burrows is averaging team highs of 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots, and shooting 57.9 percent.
Marquette won its only meeting with IPFW, 91-57 on Jan. 2, 2005.