Seton Hall-Marquette Preview

The Associated Press

After falling behind early on the road over the weekend, Marquette battled back behind a gritty effort to keep its winning streak intact.

The Golden Eagles could have a much easier go at it at home, where they've been nearly unbeatable.

Seeking a seventh consecutive Big East victory for the first time in three seasons, No. 15 Marquette tries for a 12th win in 13 home games Tuesday night against slumping Seton Hall.

Looking headed for defeat after trailing by as many as 18 points Saturday at Villanova, the Golden Eagles (18-4, 7-2) instead regrouped to outscore the Wildcats 46-32 in the second half of an 82-78 win.

"I don't think you can go on the road ... and go through all that we went through and have a chance to win unless you're extremely tough," said coach Buzz Williams, whose team is in second place in the Big East standings - 1 1/2 games in back of first-place Syracuse.

Making a combined 7 of 14 from 3-point range, Darius Johnson-Odom scored a season-high 26 points and Jae Crowder added 20 and 11 rebounds.

"I think I got in a groove once we were down," said Johnson-Odom, second in the conference with 18.5 points per game. "If the ball's in my hands, I think my teammates want me to take jumpers like that."

Marquette seems poised to keep things going given its recent play at home. The Golden Eagles, whose only home defeat came 74-57 to Vanderbilt on Dec. 29, have otherwise taken care of business on their own court.

Marquette has outscored visiting opponents by an average of 17.7 points in going 11-1 at the Bradley Center and isn't likely to face much of a challenge from the Pirates (15-6, 4-5).

Seton Hall, which won four straight Dec. 30-Jan. 10, has since lost four in a row. In one of their ugliest offensive displays of the season, the Pirates were limited to 27.6 percent shooting in Saturday's 60-51 loss to Louisville.

"We didn't finish a lot of times," coach Kevin Willard said. "You have got to make layups. You have got to make free throws.

"We're lacking a lot of confidence and it's kind of making us a step slow. It's going from making a layup to missing a layup, making a shot to missing a shot. So to hang in there, force 24 turnovers and give yourself a chance, that's the best we can ask for."

Leading the team with 16.1 points per game, guard Jordan Theodore scored 18 while fellow senior Herb Pope had 12.

After averaging 21.4 points on 54.8 percent shooting over his first 11 games, Pope has averaged just 9.9 on 36.0 percent from the field over his last 10. Seton Hall is 12-1 when Pope scores at least 13 points, but 3-5 when he records 12 or fewer.

The Pirates had dropped eight straight meetings in this series by an average of 10.2 points before knocking off Marquette 85-72 on March 5. They have lost 22 of 23 road matchups versus Top 25 foes.

Seton Hall hasn't suffered five consecutive defeats since a six-game skid Dec. 30-Jan. 22, 2009.

Marquette hasn't won seven straight in Big East play since opening its conference schedule with nine wins a row in 2008-09. In order to achieve the feat, it will have to win without forward Davante Gardner, who is out with a left knee sprain.

The big man has provided a key interior presence since starting center Chris Otule went down for the season, averaging 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in his last 14 games.

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