George Washington-Marquette Preview
Marquette's once anemic offense appears to be making strides.
Friday should provide a better barometer of the Golden Eagles' progress as they match up against the strong defense of George Washington.
No. 25 Marquette looks to advance to the finals of the Wooden Legacy with a win Friday in its first-ever meeting with the Colonials.
The Golden Eagles (4-2) have made due despite a mostly ugly offense thus far. They were shooting just 37.9 percent from the field - including 22.3 percent from 3-point range - prior to an 86-66 quarterfinal win over Cal State Fullerton on Thursday in the Titans' own gym.
Marquette shot a season-high 55.7 percent from the floor and was 7 of 16 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc. Coach Buzz Williams' team was coming off a 40.6 percent shooting night in Monday's 79-77 loss at Arizona State after shooting 36.1 percent or worse in three of its first four games.
"I think the ball is moving, it isn't getting stopped, and we're getting it reversed quickly," Williams said. "I think that our ball and body movement in the last six days has been as good as it's been all year long ... and I think that's somewhat helped our field goal percentage."
Senior forward Jamil Wilson - who came in averaging 9.2 points - finished with a career-high 24 on 10-of-14 shooting. He scored 20 in the first half alone as he was 3 of 3 from long distance.
Also turning in efficient performances were Devante Gardner and Jajuan Johnson, who each scored 18 on a combined 14-of-19 shooting effort.
"It was good to see Jamil come alive today," Williams told the team's official website. "Our confidence is growing because we are learning to play the right way."
George Washington (5-0) is looking to go 6-0 for the first time since an 8-0 start in 2005-06 following Thursday's 71-63 overtime win over Miami. The Colonials needed a tying layup from Joe McDonald with three seconds left in regulation despite holding a 12-point advantage with 10:47 remaining.
They ran away from the Hurricanes in overtime, beginning the extra period with a 12-2 run.
""I give our guys all the credit in the world. I think some experience in close games last year really paid off for us today," said coach Mike Lonergan, whose club had 10 of its 30 games decided by seven points or fewer in 2012-13.
George Washington has lost 14 straight to ranked teams, but will look to stifle Marquette with a defense that has limited opponents to 37.7 percent field-goal shooting, including a 28.4 percent clip from 3-point range.
Lonergan's squad will likely need to be better from the free-throw line after hitting only five of a season-low nine attempts from the charity stripe Thursday. The Colonials hit 71.3 percent of their free throws through the previous four games.
Marquette has won 17 of its last 20 non-conference regular season games against unranked opponents at neutral sites.