MU Takes On 5/5 Xavier In BIG EAST Quarterfinals
March 10, 2016
TV: FS1 | Radio: 540 ESPN
The Marquette University men's basketball team (20-12, 8-10 BIG EAST) has advanced to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Tournament Presented by Jeep brand and will face No. 2 seed Xavier (26-4, 14-4 BIG EAST) at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 10 in Madison Square Garden. FS1 will feature the national television broadcast, with Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Bill Raftery (analyst) and Molly McGrath (reporter) calling the action. The MU-XU winner will advance to face either Seton Hall or Creighton in the semifinals Friday night at 8 p.m. CT.
MU Continues BIG EAST Tourney Streak
Since Marquette joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06, MU remains the only program to have reached at least the quarterfinals of the tournament every year after last night's win over St. John's.
The Golden Eagles have advanced to the semifinals twice (lost to Pittsburgh in 2007-08 and Georgetown in 2009-10) since joining the conference. Marquette is 10-10 all-time in its 11 appearances in the event, but has yet to play in the championship game.
Marquette has posted an overall record of 22-25 in league tourneys since joining the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) in 1989-90. MU was 0-2 in the MCC, 2-4 in the Great Midwest Conference and 10-9 in Conference USA.
MU's Series With Xavier Has Long History
While the 2015-16 campaign marks just Xavier's third in the BIG EAST Conference, the series between Marquette and the Musketeers has plenty of history.
The Golden Eagles own a 47-21 overall lead in matchups that date back to the 1958-59 campaign. MU dominated the pairings during the Al McGuire and Hank Raymonds era, at one point claiming 26-straight victories between 1969 and 1983. The lone NCAA tournament meeting came in 2010-11 and resulted in a 66-55 Marquette win in the opening round and started the team's run to a Sweet 16 appearance. XU posted a 67-63 win over MU at home in the 2000 National Invitation Tournament.
The Musketeers have claimed the last five meetings and 6-of-7 overall, including a sweep of the home-and-home series in 2014-15. In the most recent outing, the Golden Eagles led by as many as seven points in the second half before Xavier rallied for the 90-82 win at the Cintas Center on Feb. 6. Forward Henry Ellenson (22 points) and guard Haanif Cheatham (21 points) led the way offensively.
Big Day For Freshman Of The Year Ellenson
Wednesday was a big day for freshman forward Henry Ellenson, who claimed the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Award, used his favorite NBA player Carmelo Anthony's locker and collected his 18th double-double of the season in the win over St. John's.
The Rice Lake, Wisconsin native finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds in 37 minutes. He shot 8-of-16 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. Ellenson is the first freshman to score at least 25 points and grab 10 rebounds since Anthony in 2002-03 and the first Marquette player to have a double-double since Jae Crowder (2011-12).
Johnson Provides Bench Spark In St. John's Win
Junior guard Jajuan Johnson came off the bench for the first time since the Feb. 6 game at Xavier (13 straight) and responded with a career-best effort in Wednesday night's win.
The Memphis, Tennessee native netted a career-best 23 points in just 28 minutes of action. He shot 7-of-13 from the field and knocked down all eight of his free throw attempts. Despite his limited playing time, Johnson also found time to chip in five steals (ranks second in BIG EAST, 1.6 spg.), five rebounds and four assists.
Offensive Attack Clicks On Madison Square Garden Floor
Marquette scored 101 points (most this season since 104 vs. Maine on Dec. 5) thanks to 55.8 percent shooting (63.0 percent in first half) from the floor and an 88.4 percent effort from the free throw line.
MU had at least five players finish with double figures in points for the 10th time in 2015-16 and its effort from the charity stripe marked season highs in both makes (38) and attempts (43). Of the seven players to see action Wednesday night, six made at least four free throws.
The Golden Eagles had never scored 100-or-more points against a BIG EAST opponent since joining the league in 2005-06 prior to last night. The previous high of 96 points came against DePaul on Feb. 22, 2014.
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