Gonzaga-Marquette Preview

BY foxsports • November 23, 2010

Gonzaga fell 11 spots in the AP Top 25 after losing one game at the CBE Classic last week. It will probably drop completely out of the rankings after losing consecutive games for the first time in two seasons.

The No. 22 Bulldogs look to avoid a third straight loss Tuesday night when they meet Marquette in a consolation game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Gonzaga (2-2) tumbled down the rankings after falling 79-76 to then-No. 25 San Diego State last Tuesday in a regional matchup for this event. The Bulldogs allowed the Aztecs to shoot 50.8 percent.

Their defense was just as bad Monday. Gonzaga allowed No. 4 Kansas State to shoot 50.9 percent in an 81-64 semifinal loss. The Zags trailed by as many as 20 points, shot 33.3 percent overall and seemed to be rattled by the purple-clad crowd rooting for Kansas State.

"This was a tough venue," said coach Mark Few, whose club has dropped consecutive games for the first time since a three-game slide Dec. 20-31, 2008. "You walk out in a neutral-court situation and the whole arena is in purple. I can't say I like that as much."

The Bulldogs could be in for another tough challenge based on how Marquette (4-1) played in its semifinal Monday. The Golden Eagles battled back from an early 14-point deficit to tie top-ranked Duke with 10:28 left, though they ultimately lost 82-77.

"We had four assists in the first half and we finished with fourteen," coach Buzz Williams said. "Nine of our first 11 baskets in the second half were assisted. From that point forward accrued to assists. We are not good enough to beat anyone let alone the best team in the country by not doing what it is we practice every day."

Jimmy Butler led Marquette with 22 points while Darius Johnson-Odom's woes continued with 13 and 4-of-15 shooting. Johnson-Odom is 3 for 18 on 3-pointers this season after finishing 11th in the nation at 47.4 percent from beyond the arc in 2009-10.

That's been a team-wide problem through five games. Marquette went 4 for 20 from 3-point range Monday, and is shooting 28.3 percent on the season. The Golden Eagles ranked fourth in the nation at 41.3 percent a season ago.

"We learn stuff about ourselves everyday but I definitely think when we play a good team like Duke we learn how we have to start games and finish games and what we need to do in between," Butler said. "I think we know that we just play for ourselves and not as individuals."

Defensively, the Golden Eagles will be keying on Steven Gray, who is averaging a team-high 23.0 points for the Bulldogs. Gray - Gonzaga's lone senior - turned in his worst game of the season Monday with 15 points, shooting 6 of 15 from the floor.

"Steve had some chances (Monday),'' Few said. "He missed a breakaway layin. I actually need to give him a blow. He missed a couple of bunnies he normally doesn't miss or he would have been up in 20s.''

These teams have split two meetings. Marquette won the most recent one, 72-63 to claim the 2001 Great Alaska Shootout championship.

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