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Feb 2, 2024 2:41 am

No. 9 Marquette visits Georgetown, aims to keep trends in place

In December, when Marquette faced Georgetown, the Golden Eagles handed the Hoyas a loss that remains their most decisive this season. Six weeks later, not much has changed for either team.

When No. 9 Marquette (16-5, 7-3 Big East) and Georgetown (8-12, 1-8) are matched up again Saturday, the Golden Eagles will bring a five-game winning streak to Washington, D.C., while the Hoyas will enter on a five-game losing skid.

While this season has been the culmination of what Shaka Smart has built in his three years at Marquette, it has been a rocky start for Ed Cooley in his opening season at Georgetown after coaching Providence to the NCAA Tournament seven times in his 12 years there.

Cooley got a raucous reminder of his tenure at Providence last Saturday when fans greeted him with boos and vulgar chants.

In the charged atmosphere, the Hoyas rose to the challenge, taking the lead with fewer than three minutes to go before the Friars scored 11 straight points on their way to an 84-76 victory.

“If anything, I should ask Providence College for a bonus check based on the energy that was in here,” Cooley said.

Jayden Epps scored 26 points and Ismael Massoud added 16 points and seven rebounds to help Georgetown rally from a 12-point deficit midway through the second half.

Cooley called the game a “big stepping stone for our men.”

“Our team has to learn how to win. We have to learn how to close out games,” Cooley said. “I think it’s a trust thing. I think it’s a belief thing. And hopefully this elevates us a little bit.”

While the Hoyas have had a week to recover from their emotional game, the Golden Eagles were busy Tuesday night, winning 85-80 at Villanova as Tyler Kolek turned in a virtuoso performance.

The reigning Big East Player of the Year scored a career-high 32 points to go along with nine assists, six rebounds and three steals. Kolek was at his best when the Golden Eagles needed him the most.

After they blew a 20-point lead, Kolek made four 3-pointers in a span of fewer than three minutes midway through the second half. Kolek also passed to David Joplin for another 3 during the spree when Marquette turned a one-point deficit into a nine-point lead.

“When you have the best player on the court, you typically win,” Smart said. “He showed guts. He showed character. He showed toughness. He wanted to take the big shot.”

Marquette won despite the absence of third-leading scorer Kam Jones (13.9 points per game), who has a sprained ankle.

But the Golden Eagles also thrived with the return of another backcourt player as Chase Ross provided 11 points in 31 minutes, coming off a shoulder separation that had kept him out of the previous five games.

Saturday will be the Golden Eagles’ fourth road test in their past five games.

In its win last month over Georgetown, Marquette got 20 points and nine rebounds from Joplin and 13 points and 10 assists from Kolek.

– Field Level Media

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