Men's Basketball Looks to Continue Streak Against Rutgers

Feb. 6, 2007

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MILWAUKEE (AP) - Marquette has overcome a slow start in BIG EAST play, and the Golden Eagles now look to tie a season high with their eighth straight victory - all against conference opponents - when they host Rutgers on Wednesday night.

The 11th-ranked Golden Eagles (20-4, 7-2) opened the BIG EAST season with losses to Providence and Syracuse on Jan. 4 and 7, but have since won seven straight, including three against ranked teams.

Marquette, winner of 11 of its last 13 overall, has knocked off then-No. 24 Connecticut, then-No. 21 West Virginia and then-No. 6 Pittsburgh during its run.

"We kept saying it to our team and they believe it," said Marquette coach Tom Crean, whose team won eight in a row to start the season. "Any Big East win is great."

Crean's team pulled within one game of conference-leading Pitt with a 69-62 home victory over Providence on Saturday. The victory gave Marquette its second straight 20-win season and the fourth in Crean's eight seasons with the Eagles.

Jerel McNeal scored 18 points, while reserve Dan Fitzgerald tied a season high with 14 as Marquette avenged a 79-54 road defeat to the Friars in the Jan. 4 meeting.

McNeal also had 12 rebounds and is averaging 14.3 points over the last three games. Leading scorer Dominic James, though, was held to a season low-tying six points on 2-of-11 shooting. James came into Saturday's contest averaging 17.7 points over the previous six games.

Wesley Matthews shot 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, and has made all of his last 20 foul shots. He's 38-for-41 (92.7 percent) from the line in his last four games.

"We have so many options and so many good players," McNeal said. "It is all about the team concept."

The Golden Eagles have held opponents to 68.1 points per game during their winning streak. They outrebounded Providence 42-29 for their largest such margin of the season and have beaten opponents on the boards 266-234 during the seven-game run.

Marquette looks for another strong defensive effort against a Rutgers team that has managed just 57.4 points a game while going 1-7 in its last eight contests. All but one of those defeats was by double digits.

The Scarlet Knights (9-14, 2-8) lost their third straight road game and fifth in their last six Saturday, 61-50 in overtime to UConn. Rutgers was held below 60 points for the 12th straight game.

The Knights' Anthony Farmer hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation, but the Huskies scored the final 12 points of overtime.

Farmer finished with 13 points and Jaron Griffin added 18 for Rutgers, which played without leading scorer and rebounder J.R. Inman.

Inman, who missed the game to attend funeral services for his grandmother, is averaging 12.1 points and 7.3 boards a contest.

While the teams are going in opposite directions, Rutgers did win the only meeting with new Big East member Marquette 91-84 at home on Feb. 12, 2006. The Scarlet Knights were led by Quincy Douby, who had 32 points. James scored 22 for the Golden Eagles.




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