No. 10 Marquette beats Seton Hall 79-67

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—After growing impatient with his team’s defense, first-year Marquette coach Buzz Williams recently remarked that he would prefer to see them play like a bunch of guys who eat hamburgers instead of filet mignon.

Apparently, it took the Golden Eagles a half to work up an appetite on Tuesday night—something they won’t get away with again anytime soon, as their schedule takes a brutal turn.

Trailing hot-shooting Seton Hall by three points coming out of halftime, No. 10 Marquette immediately clamped down and added some offense of their own to pull away for a 79-67 victory.

“Offense isn’t our problem,” Marquette’s Wesley Matthews said. “It’s, ‘How are we stopping you?’ And that’s what we’ve been focusing on.”

Matthews scored 24 points and Lazar Hayward added 14 for the Golden Eagles (22-4, 11-2 Big East), who started the second half with a 16-3 run fueled in large part by Seton Hall turnovers.

“They turned it up a little bit,” Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “You could see that they were like, ‘Hey, this team could beat us.”’

And then came the real tipping point: Marquette got to shoot six straight free throws after a personal foul and two technicals were called on Seton Hall.

Gonzalez called the episode a “debacle” for his team, but seemed more confused than frustrated by the calls.

Jeremy Hazell scored 23 points for the Pirates (14-11, 5-8), who have lost two straight games to top 10 teams after having their five-game winning streak snapped by No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday.

The Pirates shot 48.3 percent in the first half, including 5-for-9 from 3-point range, as the Golden Eagles’ highly regarded perimeter players repeatedly lost track of the Pirates’ outside shooters. But Marquette held Seton Hall to 34.6 percent and forced 14 turnovers in the second half.

“There’s a reason they’re a top-ranked team and haven’t lost at home,” said Seton Hall’s John Garcia, whose fifth foul led to the technicals. “They came out with a different energy in the second half and we didn’t match it. We were down three and next thing you know we were down 10.”

The Golden Eagles won despite going 3-for-17 from 3-point range, including a 1-for-5 performance on a slightly off night for Jerel McNeal, who had scored 20 or more points in nine straight games but was held to 13 on Tuesday.

With the win, the Golden Eagles took advantage of one last chance to pad their conference record before a finishing stretch that ramps up with a game at Georgetown on Saturday, then closes at home against Connecticut, at Louisville and Pittsburgh, and against Syracuse at home.

Marquette led 45-40 when the defense really took over, as McNeal made a steal and converted a three-point play after a layup on the other end.

Dominic James came up with a steal on Seton Hall’s next possession, got it ahead to Matthews for an emphatic right-handed dunk that put Marquette up 50-40 with 15:10 left.

“In the second half, we were maybe as good as we possibly have been all year long defensively,” Williams said.

Seton Hall scored on a layup by Jordan Theodore, but Hayward drew Garcia’s fifth foul with 14:24 remaining. The Pirates protested the call—Gonzalez first thought it was called on Robert Mitchell—and were assessed two technical fouls, one on the bench and the other on Hazell.

“We can’t really play without John Garcia,” Gonzalez said. “And after that, I think we just got out of synch.”

Matthews shot the free throws for the technicals, going 3-for-4, and Hayward made two from Garcia’s original foul—all with the clock stopped at 14:24, equaling the six free throws Seton Hall shot in the entire first half and putting the Golden Eagles up 55-42.

That effectively ended any hope for an upset by the Pirates, who ended the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 37-34 lead.

“It changed the momentum of the game,” Theodore said. “We got those two technicals back-to-back. Then our big man fouled out. It was a lot of things that went wrong.”

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