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South Florida-Marquette Preview

AP - Sports

Known for its offensive prowess, Marquette used a stifling defensive effort its last time out to extend its winning streak to four games.

While slowing down South Florida likely isn't a concern, putting points up on the board against the stingy Bulls could prove difficult.

Seeking a fifth consecutive Big East victory for the first time in nearly two years, No. 17 Marquette tries for a 10th win in 11 games versus South Florida on Tuesday night.

After narrowly defeating Villanova to open conference play, the Golden Eagles (16-4, 5-2) suffered back-to-back road defeats to then-No. 9 Georgetown and then-No. 1 Syracuse. They, however, have since turned a corner, outscoring opponents by an average of 10.5 points in winning four in a row.

Five days following a 74-63 victory over then-No. 23 Louisville, Marquette knocked off Providence 79-72 on Saturday for its first conference road win. The Golden Eagles got off to a slow start and entered the break down 40-39 but limited the Friars to 36.5 percent shooting from the field - their best mark versus a Big East foe.

"We spend an inordinate amount of time in practice on our defense," said coach Buzz Williams, whose next victory will be his 100th. "I think in the last 13 minutes we were good defensively - maybe our best all year."

While South Florida is averaging a Big East-low 61.9 points, it's holding teams to a conference-best 57.7 points per contest. The Bulls are just 1-9 over their last 10 meetings in this series, six of which - including last season's 59-58 loss - have been decided by four or fewer points.

On the verge of a season-best fourth consecutive win, South Florida (12-9, 5-2) is enjoying its best start in Big East play. The Bulls posted their highest scoring output in more than a month, winning 75-59 at DePaul on Sunday.

"Road wins are hard," said coach Stan Heath, whose team shot 56.0 percent.

After finishing with four points on 0-of-4 shooting in Wednesday's 64-49 win over St. John's, senior Augustus Gilchrist bounced back with a season-high 22, making 7 of 8 shots.

"Our guys kept going to him because he was in that rhythm," Heath said. "When Gus gets in that rhythm he's hard to stop."

South Florida is 4-2 at DePaul since joining the Big East in 2005, but 4-45 against the rest of the conference on the road.

While the Bulls are all but certain to have their hands full with Marquette's tremendous duo of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, they could also have a hard time trying to contain forward Jamil Wilson.

Wilson, in his first season with team after transferring from Oregon, posted a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench Saturday.

"I think he's been incredibly important with what we're doing," Williams said of Wilson. "I think with each day in practice his confidence continues to grow."

Johnson-Odom and Crowder, averaging a combined 34.5 points, each scored 18 versus Providence.

In its only road matchup versus a ranked opponent this season, South Florida was blown out 70-42 at the hands of then-No. 15 Kansas on Dec. 3. The Bulls had dropped 16 consecutive meetings versus Top 25 teams overall before defeating then-No. 24 Seton Hall 56-55 on Jan. 13.

Marquette, 4-0 at home in Big East play, hasn't posted five straight league victories since Jan. 26-Feb. 13, 2010.

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