Marquette is slowly turning the corner as the Golden Eagles won another game on Saturday, defeating Xavier 81-72 for a home Big East win.
The Golden Eagles are only 15-10, (7-5 Big East) but, for the first time this season, they have a three-game winning streak and they’re able to build some momentum going towards their likely only realistic shot at the NCAA Tournament: winning the Big East Tournament.
If the Golden Eagles get a shooting performance like they did from guard Jake Thomas, they have to like their chances so much more. Thomas as a game changer on Saturday, knocking down six three-pointers on his way to 18 points and it gave the Golden Eagles a fourth scorer and additional floor spacer.
Marquette also had solid scoring output from Todd Mayo (13 points) and Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson each added 16 points as well.
If Mayo isn’t the only perimeter scorer, it opens up driving lanes for Mayo and Wilson and makes it easier for them to score.
Buzz Williams’ team can defend pretty well but if they find a consistent perimeter scoring option like Jake Thomas, it gives them a new dimension and a chance at advancing to the final stages of the conference tournament.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.