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Marquette-Providence Preview

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Facing a large deficit early on, Marquette steadied itself and rallied to defeat a Top 25 team at home the last time it took the court. It probably won't want to get down big out of the gate when it visits Providence on Saturday night.

The 21st-ranked Golden Eagles look for their first Big East road win when they take on a well-rested Friars team that has an impressive home victory over a ranked conference opponent on its resume.

Marquette (15-4, 4-2) has made a habit of starting slowly, and that trend continued Monday against No. 23 Louisville as it trailed by 16 points within the first seven minutes.

The Golden Eagles, though, responded with a 32-12 run to go up by four at halftime and went on to post a 74-63 win - their third straight.

"If the games were 33 minutes, we'd be really good," coach Buzz Williams said. "I really like when we are us. When we are us, we're pretty good. When we are not us, we're pretty bad."

Darius Johnson-Odom had 19 points, Davante Gardner added 17 and Jae Crowder scored 14, grabbed 11 rebounds and had six steals for Marquette. Crowder is averaging 2.8 steals over his last 11 games.

"We've got to get out of (starting slowly)," said Johnson-Odom, averaging a team-best 18.2 points. "It's been working, but I don't think we want to continue that going forward."

That may be especially true at Providence.

The Friars (12-7, 1-5) had a much easier time than did Marquette against Louisville in their last home game, taking an 18-point lead at halftime en route to a 90-59 victory Jan. 10.

The Golden Eagles, however, have won their last two trips to Rhode Island, and their 0-2 record away from home in conference action isn't so bad considering who they've faced and the competitive nature of the contests.

Marquette led by as many as 17 points in the second half against then-No. 9 Georgetown on Jan. 4 before falling 73-70. Three days later, the Golden Eagles cut a 23-point deficit to two but couldn't come all the way back in a 73-66 loss to top-ranked Syracuse.

Providence met the Orange for the second time in 11 days last Saturday, falling 78-55 on the road. Four of the Friars' last five games have been against teams ranked in the top 15.

They didn't have leading scorer Vince Council last Saturday after he was suspended for the game by first-year coach Ed Cooley. The junior point guard, expected to return against Marquette, is averaging 16.4 points and ranks among the nation's leaders with 7.1 assists per game.

"From an accountability standpoint, if I'm going to build a program the right way it doesn't matter if you're our leading-minute guy, I want to build a program based on character and integrity," Cooley said. "If you can't be a company guy and do things the right way, it doesn't matter who you are to me."

Marquette leads the all-time series with Providence 10-4, winning the past seven matchups. The teams last met March 8 in the first round of the Big East tournament, as Johnson-Odom scored a game-high 23 points in an 87-66 victory.

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