Jacksonville-Marquette Preview

Marquette figures to be tested later in the week, but its

biggest opponent Monday night could be a lengthy layoff.

The No. 16 Golden Eagles return to action for the first time in

a week when they host a Jacksonville team playing a ranked opponent

for the second straight game.

Marquette is seeking its second 6-0 start in three seasons, and

will try to remain focused with a trip to face No. 11 Wisconsin set

for Saturday and a matchup with Washington in New York three days

later.

The Golden Eagles have not played since winning the Paradise Jam

in the U.S. Virgin Islands last Monday with a 59-57 victory over

Norfolk State, their second victory over the Spartans in an

eight-day span.

Marquette won the first meeting with Norfolk State by 31 points

and led by 14 with 11:40 left last week before needing to hold on

when the Spartans missed a late 3-pointer.

“This was the first time this year and there will be many more

times from here that we will be put to the fire a little bit,”

coach Buzz Williams said. “That’s good for us. This experience will

grow us up. I’m thankful we were able to win, but this experience

will be helpful for us later on.”

The Golden Eagles shot a season-low 37.9 percent after shooting

55.6 percent during their 4-0 start.

Darius Johnson-Odom was a model of consistency in the

tournament’s three games, winning MVP honors by scoring 20 points

every time. The 6-foot-2 guard is shooting 56.9 percent thus

far.

“The MVP award is nice, but I’m nothing without my team,”

Johnson-Odom said. “The guys around me made this happen.”

Williams has used the same lineup in every game, and his bench

is developing nicely with Davante Gardner and freshman Todd

Mayo.

Gardner is the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 8.4 points per

game, shooting 61.9 percent. Mayo, the brother of Memphis Grizzlies

guard O.J. Mayo, is leading all reserves with an average of 16.6

minutes and has made 6 of 14 3-pointers.

The Golden Eagles figure to give their reserves plenty of

playing time if Jacksonville (2-3) fares as poorly as it did in its

last game. The Dolphins fell 107-62 at No. 10 Florida on

Friday.

“Florida came out and played hard and did what they had to do,

so we have to give them credit,” Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren

said.

Warren has built a solid program with five straight winning

seasons and back-to-back 20-win campaigns. This season’s team has

been very balanced with five players averaging between 10.0 and

12.0 points.

Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection Delwan Graham,

however, is struggling. Graham is averaging 6.7 points on 37.5

percent shooting in his last three games.

Marquette won the lone previous meeting with Jacksonville 88-79

on Feb. 16, 1972.