MILWAUKEE (AP)—In preparation for his team’s game against West Virginia, Marquette coach Tom Crean spliced together footage of all 20 of the 3-point shots the Mountaineers made in a blowout victory over the Golden Eagles last season.
Marquette responded by holding No. 21 West Virginia to 5-for-22 shooting from 3-point range on Saturday, then turned the resulting long rebounds into transition baskets in an 81-63 victory.
“We never wanted to stop running,” Crean said.
Dominic James snapped out of his shooting slump to score 21 points for Marquette (15-4, 2-2), which dropped out of the national rankings last week after losing its first two Big East conference games to unranked opponents.
The Golden Eagles rebounded with a victory at No. 24 Connecticut on Wednesday night, and now have won two straight against ranked teams.
The Mountaineers (13-3, 3-2) had their first conference loss at Notre Dame on Tuesday night to snap an eight-game winning streak and now have lost two straight on the road. West Virginia coach John Beilein said it’s only natural that his young team will struggle at times.
“We’re going to have some games like this, and we’re going to have to suck it up and try to play better,” Beilein said.
Frank Young scored 11 to lead West Virginia.
“We haven’t played with poise,” Young said. “We’re not playing well under pressure. We let the crowd get into it.”
The Golden Eagles’ 81-point performance was the most points the Mountaineers have given up all season
West Virginia was the Big East’s best defensive team coming into Saturday’s game, giving up an average of only 51.8 points. Saturday’s game was only the third time this season the Mountaineers had given up more than 61 points.
The scoring eruption meant that Marquette finally solved a zone defense—a major problem in the Golden Eagles’ 0-2 start in conference play. After struggling against 2-3 zone defenses in losses at Providence and to Syracuse at home, the Golden Eagles moved the ball more and took better shots against West Virginia’s 1-3-1 zone.
Crean said his young players have had a hard time trying to find good shots against zones.
“It’s hard,” Crean said. “We’re living proof of that the last two weeks.”
Outscoring West Virginia 24-10 on fast break points didn’t hurt, either.
“Every opportunity we got, we tried to push it and not let them set up their (zone),” James said.
James was 8-for-17 from the field after going 11-for-41 in Marquette’s previous three games—including 2-for-20 from 3-point range. James was 2-for-4 from 3-point range on Saturday.
Freshman David Cubillan added 14 and was 4-for-4 from 3-point range. Beilein acknowledged James’ improved shooting, but said Cubillan really disrupted his team’s defense.
“Cubillan’s 4-for-4 is like having Novak out there,” Beilein said, referring to sweet-shooting former Marquette star Steve Novak.
West Virginia’s 5-for-22 performance from 3-point range was a stunning change from last season’s 104-85 victory over Marquette. It’s still the only time West Virginia has passed the 100-point mark in regulation in four-plus seasons under Beilein.
West Virginia closed within nine on a 3-pointer by De’Sean Butler with 12:15 remaining Saturday, but Marquette used a 10-0 run to pull away from the Mountaineers.