Marquette-Rutgers Preview

The Associated Press

Marquette pulled out two key wins last week to keep pace in the hunt for the Big East title.

Coach Buzz Williams' team has to like its chances of keeping things going with a visit to Rutgers in store.

The No. 15 Golden Eagles aim for a seventh consecutive victory over the slumping Scarlet Knights, who try to avoid an 11th loss in 12 games Tuesday night.

Marquette (21-7, 12-4) climbed seven spots in Monday's AP poll after beating then-No. 12 Syracuse 74-71 last Monday and then-No. 21 Notre Dame 72-64 on Saturday.

Junior Jamil Wilson matched a career high with 19 points off the bench and Chris Otule scored a season-best 16 on 8-of-8 shooting as Marquette clinched a double bye in the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles sit one game behind Georgetown with their last game Saturday at St. John's.

"I have been disappointed in our team zero times in their attitude," Williams said. "I think it is the reason we have won (this whole time) is because of our attitude."

Marquette continues to roll thanks in part to Wilson, who's scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games. The Golden Eagles are 18-3 when he posts at least six points compared to 3-4 when he doesn't.

"When all 10 of our guys show up, then it becomes really difficult for me to get guys in and out," said Williams, whose bench held a 32-20 edge Saturday. "I am not taking Jamil out when he is playing as well as he is. I am not taking Chris out when he is playing as well as he is. ... That is the kind of problem I want to have."

Marquette hasn't encountered many problems against Rutgers lately. The Golden Eagles have outscored the Scarlet Knights (13-14, 4-12) by an average of 17.2 points during their run, including an 82-65 rout in the last meeting Feb. 22, 2012.

Marquette, though, is 2-1 at Rutgers, with both wins coming by single digits. The Golden Eagles have dropped six of nine on the road overall.

After averaging 70.2 points in opening 12-4, the Scarlet Knights have been limited to 59.7 during a 1-10 stretch, with their lone win coming 57-55 over woeful Seton Hall on Feb. 12.

Rutgers, though, hung around Saturday before falling apart in a 64-51 road loss to the then-No. 7 Hoyas. The Scarlet Knights entered halftime down by one and led by four with 17 minutes left.

"Its toughness. It's very frustrating, because there is good execution, there is some offensive rebounding," said coach Mike Rice, whose team held a 10-7 edge on the offensive glass. "That's the difference between good teams and bad teams, winning and losing, you have to finish those when you get opportunities. And we didn't."

The Scarlet Knights have dropped 11 of 12 against Top 25 teams, including six straight by an average of 10.0 points. Adding to Vander Blue's recent woes, though, could help their chances of winning Tuesday.

The junior standout, leading the Golden Eagles with 14.0 points per game, has been held to a combined 19 on 7-of-23 shooting (30.4 percent) over the last three contests.

Rutgers continues to play without leading scorer Eli Carter (14.9 points per game), who broke his leg versus DePaul on Feb. 16.

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