Cincinnati-Marquette Preview

BY foxsports • February 10, 2012

Marquette is back home after splitting a pair of road games, hoping it can build on the last one despite an ugly start.

The 18th-ranked Golden Eagles look to win their seventh straight at the Bradley Center when they face Cincinnati on Saturday.

Marquette bounced back from a 76-59 loss at Notre Dame last Saturday with an 89-76 win over DePaul on Monday. The Golden Eagles (20-5, 9-3 Big East) have won eight of nine and are two games behind No. 2 Syracuse in the conference.

Following the ugly defeat to the Irish, they got off to a slow start against the Blue Demons, trailing by 12 late in the first half before going on a 25-5 run spanning the first and second halves to take control.

Five Marquette players scored in double figures. Jamil Wilson had a season-high 18 points and 10 rebounds and Jae Crowder added 14 points and 11 boards.

"I think that's how we should be playing," said guard Darius Johnson-Odom, who scored a game-high 23 points. "We should at least get five guys in double figures. When we're able to play like that it's hard for a lot teams to guard us because you don't know who is going to score because we have so many threats on the floor."

Johnson-Odom, Marquette's leading scorer, was held to 12 points against the Irish while Crowder finished with four points and shot 2 of 7.

The Golden Eagles can't afford bad games from those two with Davante Gardner, their third-leading scorer, having missed the last three games with a knee injury. It's not certain when he will return.

If he's not ready Saturday, Wilson is likely to get a fourth straight start. He recorded his first career double-double Monday and has averaged 11.5 points - nearly six above his career average - and 5.3 rebounds the last six games.

"I thought he was the hardest-playing guy on the floor from start to finish. He is our most talented player, his talent does not always show and he is by far the perfect example of what my children become as human beings,'' coach Buzz Williams said.

Marquette will be looking to improve its 12-1 home record and 6-0 mark in conference play. It might not be easy to do against the Bearcats, who have knocked off three ranked conference opponents on the road and won in their visit to Marquette last season.

Cincinnati (17-7, 7-4) is looking to win its third straight. The Bearcats are coming off a 76-54 victory over St. John's on Wednesday.

Sean Kilpatrick scored 10 straight points in a 12-3 run that gave Cincinnati a 44-27 lead with 15:26 to play. He finished with eight rebounds as the Bearcats held a 49-29 rebounding advantage.

Yancy Gates had 14 points and nine rebounds while Cashmere Wright had 12 points and 10 boards.

"I think it was a must-win," Wright said. "We lost to them in Cincinnati so we had to come here and get a win. We're trying to make the tournament for Yancy and Dion (Dixon) for their senior season so we had to get a win."

Cincinnati's play against the top teams in the conference bodes well for its tournament resume. The Bearcats have three Big East road victories against Top 25 schools.

Cincinnati snapped a three-game losing streak against Marquette with a 67-60 win at the Bradley Center on March 2.