No. 3 Marquette faces Southern after 'rich learning experience'

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 27 Nov, 2023 at 11:27 PM

Credit: Steven Erler-USA TODAY Sports

Back home after a successful trip to the Maui Invitational, No. 3 Marquette welcomes visiting Southern on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Marquette (5-1) went 2-1 in the stacked Maui Invitational field, including taking down then-No. 1 Kansas before coming up short in the championship game to then-No. 2 Purdue by a 78-75 final. The Boilermakers are now the top-ranked team in the country.

The Golden Eagles trailed by as many as 15 in the second half against Purdue and got within one before the comeback bid stalled. Marquette's Tyler Kolek led the way with 22 points, along with seven rebounds and six assists, while Kam Jones added 17 points.

"I loved the way our guys continued to fight. Played with tremendous guts and toughness," Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. "This (tournament) was an incredibly rich learning experience for our staff, for our team."

Smart also spoke to the big wins Marquette picked up against UCLA and Kansas while still not being near where it wants to be as a team.

"I can't think of any national or conference championships that were won in November," Smart said. "For us, we got a lot of improving to do. Right now, we're ahead culturally compared to where we are defensively and offensively."

Southern (1-5) arrives on a four-game losing streak, most recently falling 71-59 on the road at Valparaiso on Saturday.

The Jaguars had three double-digit scorers led by Tai'Reon Joseph with 15, while Brandon Davis and Jalen Reynolds each had 10. Southern shot just 39.3 percent from the floor, including 26.9 percent in the first half.

The Jaguars are led in scoring by Joseph at 18.8 points per game. Tidjiane Dioumassi leads with 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game while Brentay Noel is averaging 4.0 rebounds per game.

The Jaguars' lone win this season, and the first win for new head coach Kevin Johnson, came on the road against UNLV 85-71 on Nov. 8.

The team's high-level challenges this season have come from then-No. 3 Arizona in a 97-59 road loss, as well as a two-game Midwestern road trip where they had an overtime loss against Western Illinois followed by an 88-60 defeat at Illinois.

Marquette is led in scoring by Jones at 16.2 points per game, while Kolek leads with 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals to go with his 13.5 ppg. Oso Ighodaro leads with 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game along with 15.0 ppg.

Marquette is 2-0 against Southern since the 2013-14 season, with the last matchup in 2018 when Marquette won in an 84-41 blowout in Milwaukee.

Since Smart took over at Marquette for the 2021-22 season, Marquette is 13-2 in nonconference home games, with the lone losses being UCLA in 2021 and Wisconsin last season, which would end up being their lone home loss of the season.

--Field Level Media