Marquette’s rise may have reached its limit.
No. 21 UConn absolutely destroyed the Golden Eagles 87-72 on Tuesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. The loss snapped a five-game win streak for No. 10 Marquette, which came amid an impressive run and climb up the national rankings.
The Huskies never trailed in the first half on Tuesday night, and at one point built up a 20-point lead. They closed out the opening period on a wild Nahiem Alleyne half-court shot, too, to take a 17-point lead into the break after shooting 55% from the field as a team.
The Huskies kept going in the second half, too, completely outplaying Marquette before pushing their lead to 25 points near the midway point of the period. From there, UConn simply held on to take the 15-point win.
Tristen Newton led UConn with a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Jordan Hawkins added 20 points after shooting 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Adama Sanogo added 18 points and seven rebounds, and Alleyne finished with 13 points off the bench. UConn shot 50% from the field and better than 52% from the 3-point line, and out-rebounded Marquette by 25.
Tyler Kolek led Marquette with 17 points, and both Stevie Mitchell and Ben Gold finished with 12. They were the only three to hit double figures for the Golden Eagles.
Marquette started out the season unranked, and with little real expectations in the Big East. Yet after a wild 26-point blowout win over then-No. 6 Baylor in November, the Golden Eagles quickly entered the rankings and climbed to first in the Big East standings.
Other than a pair of close conference losses, and a three-point loss to Wisconsin, Marquette entered Tuesday night having won 13 of its last 16 games. The Golden Eagles jumped to No. 10 in the latest AP Poll this week, too, in what was their highest ranking in about four years.
In theory, they should have at least competed with UConn. The Huskies, who were ranked as high as No. 2 earlier this season, have fallen hard in recent weeks after losing to Xavier twice, Providence, and even Marquette last month in Milwaukee. That previous matchup came amid a stretch in which UConn lost six of eight games.
The Huskies had to rally late on Saturday to beat lowly Georgetown, which has just one conference win to its name, too. They’ll take on No. 23 Creighton next on Saturday amid what should be a big push in the final part of their schedule.
For Marquette, however, it’s a different story. If Tuesday’s stumble is nothing more than a reality check for Shaka Smart’s group, there’s no reason they can’t rally to claim a Big East title for the first time in program history. If not, things could get bad, and fast.
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