No. 10 Marquette looks to avoid letdown at DePaul

Field Level Media

Following perhaps its biggest victory of the season, the last thing No. 10 Marquette needs is a letdown.

The Golden Eagles will try to avoid that from happening while aiming for a fifth straight Big East road win Tuesday night against DePaul, which has won two straight, in Chicago.

Marquette players, coaches and fans might have finally exhaled after holding on for a 66-65 win over then-No. 14 Villanova on Saturday in Milwaukee. Star Markus Howard scored 38, but the Golden Eagles nearly blew a 15-point second-half lead and needed one final stop to walk away with the victory.

"Our guys had enough will power and toughness to gut it out," said Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski, whose team shot 51.0 percent.

"Our guys are competing their hearts out, on both ends of the floor."

Not only did that victory prove Marquette (20-4, 9-2 in Big East) is worthy of a top-10 ranking, but the Golden Eagles moved within a game of league-leading Villanova as they bounced back from a one-point defeat on their home floor to St. John's on Feb. 5.

"It's a long season," Howard told the Big East's Twitter page.

"Every game to us is a championship game. ... We want to take each and every day as a chance to get better. I think (Saturday) we took a big step."

A New Year's Day loss at St. John's was also the most recent time the Golden Eagles fell away from home. Marquette has not won five consecutive conference road games since 2009-10.

Though the Golden Eagles have won six of seven against the Blue Demons following last month's 79-69 home victory, their lone defeat during that stretch came at DePaul last season. So, they have no reason to take coach Dave Leitao's team for granted in Chicago.

Also, the Blue Demons (13-9, 5-6) are trying to match a season high with their third consecutive win after dropping Providence and Xavier by 12 points each. They last won three straight Big East games in 2014-15.

DePaul closed on a 21-5 run Saturday to beat Xavier 74-62. Despite going 1 of 9 from 3-point range, Max Strus had a team-high 17 points.

Paul Reed and Femi Olujobi each scored 15 and combined for 17 rebounds as DePaul overcame an eight-point deficit with just under 11 minutes to play to top the Musketeers.

Reed is averaging 17.0 points in his last eight games, and had 18 at Marquette last month. Olujobi posted 15 points and 11 boards in that meeting with the Golden Eagles.

The Blue Demons, meanwhile, have dropped 36 consecutive games against teams ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press poll dating to a victory over then-No. 5 Kansas in December 2006. Leitao and the Blue Demons obviously know how difficult ending that slide will be Tuesday.

"Marquette is very good for a number of reasons," Leitao said following last month's defeat.

Howard, who has at least 31 points in three of the last four games, recorded 23 with nine assists, but also had eight turnovers, versus DePaul in January. Teammate Theo John scored a career-high 16 and pulled down 10 rebounds against the Blue Demons.

--Field Level Media

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