Marquette-Cal St.-Fullerton Preview
Marquette is having trouble on the offensive end, and with leading scorer Todd Mayo dealing with an ankle injury, those woes could continue.
Coach Buzz Williams, though, is more upset with how the 25th-ranked Golden Eagles performed defensively in their first game of the Wooden Legacy.
Mayo's status is uncertain for Marquette, which looks to bounce back from another loss when it takes on host Cal State Fullerton for the first time Thursday in bracket play.
As part of the Wooden Legacy, Marquette (3-2) traveled to Arizona State and lost 79-77 on Monday. Mayo, averaging 13.8 points, twisted his ankle in practice Friday and didn't play.
Without the junior guard, the Golden Eagles still managed to put up their second-highest point total, but they allowed their most of the season. Marquette, which lost 52-35 at then-No. 10 Ohio State on Nov. 16, is averaging 69.4 points and shooting 38.7 percent from the field - 22.3 from 3-point range.
Williams briefly touched on the offensive struggles following Monday's loss before mentioning over and over that the Golden Eagles allowed the Sun Devils to shoot 53.7 percent - the highest by an opponent since Georgetown made 62.8 percent of its attempts Jan. 4, 2012.
"As much has been noted of our lack of scoring, we can't allow an opponent to shoot 54 percent and have a chance to win. It's just hard," Williams said. "... Our goal is to get it to 39."
Despite the defeat, Williams was pleased with how his team competed. Marquette erased a 10-point halftime deficit and had a chance to tie it, but guard Derrick Wilson's shot was swatted away at the buzzer.
"As long as we play really hard and keep working really hard then we'll add them up at the end and see where we're at," Williams said.
Senior guard Jake Thomas missed all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half but made 5 of 9 in the second to help the Golden Eagles rally.
Thomas scored all of his 16 points in the second half, Davante Gardner had 18 and Wilson had 12 with seven assists.
Facing Cal State Fullerton (2-3) may be just what Marquette needs to get back on track defensively. The Titans have shot 38.8 percent and averaged 60.5 points in dropping two straight, including a 81-58 loss at San Jose State on Saturday.
Cal State Fullerton has also been playing without its top scorer. Guard Alex Harris, averaging 17.7 points, has missed the last two games due to a right ankle sprain.
His absence has coincided with a pair of slow starts for the Titans. They trailed 45-25 at halftime of a 76-62 loss to Southern California on Nov. 19 and were down 49-19 at the break Saturday.
The tournament's eight-team field also includes No. 20 Creighton, College of Charleston, George Washington, Miami and San Diego State.