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Akinjo, McClung help Georgetown beat No. 16 Marquette

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MILWAUKEE — Marquette has to regroup quickly to salvage its once-promising season.

Freshman guards James Akinjo scored 25 points. Mac McClung added 23 and Georgetown beat No. 16 Marquette 86-84 on Saturday, the Golden Eagles’ fourth straight loss to close the regular season.

“We better try to figure it out,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “But regardless, when your offense isn’t going the way you want it to, you have to play defense. I thought their freshman guards just had their way with us. Credit to them. I mean, they hit tough shots, not all of them were easy. But, you can’t let a backcourt come in here and score 50.”

Jamorko Pickett and Jessie Govan each added 10 points for the Hoyas (18-13, 9-9 Big East), who were coming off a 101-69 loss at DePaul.

Markus Howard led Marquette (23-8, 12-6) with 28 points, and Joey Hauser added 16. The Golden Eagles, who dropped from No. 10 the previous week, missed a chance to tie Villanova for the conference title. The Wildcats lost at Seton Hall earlier Saturday.

Pickett hit a 3-pointer from the top to put Georgetown up 82-77, and Joey Hauser countered with a 3 from the left corner to make it 82-80 with 46 seconds left. Govan hit the first of two free throws to put the Hoyas up 83-80. Howard was fouled on the ensuing possession, but only hit the second free throw to make it 83-81 with 11 seconds remaining.

Akinjo’s two free throws made it 85-81, and Howard hit a 3-pointer from the top to cut the lead to 85-84 with 3.5 seconds left.

Picket hit the first of two free throws with 2 seconds left, and time expired during the rebound scramble.

“James (Akinjo) didn’t play his best game the first time we played them, made some key mistakes,” Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. “But I thought he grew from them. In the first half, he started reverting back to mistakes that he made in that game. I got on him a little bit, but I thought that he showed that he’s growing up.”

Howard had 28 points and Joey Hauser added 16 for Marquette.

Howard, the Big East’s leading scorer was 8 of 25 from the field, including 3 of 10 from beyond the arc.

Howard was coming off a six-point performance on 2-of-11 shooting in a 73-64 loss to Seton Hall in which the Pirates scored the final 18 points of the game.

Marquette took a 60-53 lead on floater from the lane by Howard with 10:57 left, but the Hoyas tied it at 63 on Akinjo’s 3-pointer. The Golden Eagles led in the second half of each of their four losses.

“Obviously we’re disappointed we had this loss,” said Marquette forward Brendan Bailey. “We definitely wanted to win. But we’re just keeping our heads high. We’re talking positive. We’re not pointing fingers at anybody. We’re all still great, close teammates. We just need to come together even more.”

The Golden Eagles shot just 34 percent, making 23 of 67 shots.

“I thought we great looks,” Wojciechowski said. “We missed a number at the basket, we missed a number of open shots. I don’t think it was a problem with our shots.”

The Golden Eagles, who entered as the Big East’s top free-throw shooting team at 77 percent, missed 10 of 36 attempts, including six in the second half.

“We missed more free throws than we normally do,” “Wojciechowski said. “Again, those things happen. We’ve got to play better defense.”

BIG PICTURE

Georgetown: The Hoyas enter the conference tournament looking for consistency. Georgetown hasn’t won more than two consecutive games since early December. “We had a great win today and it would be a shame if we don’t follow it up on Thursday with another great performance. So, we have to build on it,” Ewing said.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles need to take care of the ball after being hurt by turnovers during their skid. Marquette, which had committed 58 turnovers in its previous three losses, had five against Georgetown.

UP NEXT

Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Seton Hall scores second big upset, stuns No. 23 Villanova

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NEWARK, N.J. — Seton Hall may have punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a pair of stunning upsets in the final week of the regular season in the Big East Conference.

Myles Powell scored 20 points, Myles Cale added 19 and Seton Hall upset No. 23 Villanova 79-75 Saturday, just three days after knocking off No. 16 Marquette to revive its chances of going to college basketball’s biggest tournament.

“We just beat two ranked teams. We beat Kentucky. We beat Maryland,” said Powell, who added seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in more than 36 minutes. “The list goes on. We can play with anybody in the country when we are playing our basketball.”

Seton Hall (18-12, 9-9), picked to finish eighth in the 10-team conference in the preseason poll, has exceeded all expectations playing with lone senior Michael Nzei.

Villanova (22-9, 13-5) will win at least a share of its sixth straight regular-season conference title. They will share the crown with Marquette, if the Golden Eagles beat Georgetown later Saturday. The Wildcats will win it outright if the Hoyas win.

“Seton Hall played really well right from the start, very locked in, very ready to play,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “For whatever reason, a number of little reasons, we just didn’t have our guys ready to play at the start. They just jumped us early and it took us until the second half to really get going, which is disappointing.

“But that’s what happened, and I was proud of our guys. We actually started competing in the second half and it just wasn’t enough.”

Jared Rhoden had a career-high 15 points, Sandro Mamukelashvili had 12 and a career-best 18 rebounds for Seton Hall. Nzei added 10 in his final home game.

“Our main focus right now is to win the Big East championship,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, whose team will have a first-round bye.

Collin Gillespie had 22 points and Phil Booth came on late to add 16 for Villanova. Eric Paschall had 14, Saddiq Bey added 13 and Jermaine Samuels 10. The Wildcats, who have won of the last three national titles, didn’t get a point from their bench.

“They were playing with great confidence coming off the Marquette game,” Wright said of Seton Hall. “They looked really dialed in, just really efficient and we were not. You play a good team like that, you can’t play 25 minutes.”

This was almost like a tournament game with the Wildcats looking to clinch the regular-season crown and Seton Hall fighting to stay in the hunt for an NCAA berth.

Villanova rallied from a 16-point deficit early in the second half to draw within 66-65 on two free throws by Gillespie with 3:57 to go.

That would be as close as they got as Nzei scored inside and Mamukelashvili hit a follow for a 70-65 lead.

The Wildcats never got closer than three points the rest of the way.

“This feels really good, knowing we accomplished a lot,” Cale said of this week. “But we know its unfinished business. We have to do more in the Big East Tournament. We are looking to go to the NCAA Tournament and see what we can do there.”

The Pirates led most of the game and it ballooned from a 39-28 halftime lead to 16 points in the opening minutes of the second half. Powell hit two free throws and Cale, who was in a bit of a slump recently, hit a 3-pointer.

Villanova didn’t wait long to start its comeback, scoring the next 13 points to draw within 44-41 on two free throws by Paschall.

It was Seton Hall’s turn after that. Cale hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 12-4 run that put the Pirates ahead 56-45 with 11:38 to go.

Over the next eight minutes, the Wildcats whittled to lead down to a point, but that was it.

BIG PICTURE:

Villanova: Play in the Big East Tournament and then go to NCAA Tournament.

Seton Hall: Try to win the Big East and earn automatic berth.

UP NEXT

Villanova: A first-round bye in the Big East Tournament. Play in quarterfinals on Thursday as the top or second seed.

Seton Hall: Will be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in tournament at Madison Square Garden.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Creighton, TCU place assistant coaches on leave for roles in college basketball corruption scandal

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Two more high-profile college basketball assistant coaches have been placed on administrative leave for their alleged involvement in the ongoing FBI college basketball corruption scandal.

On Friday, TCU announced it was placing assistant coach Corey Barker on administrative leave, while Creighton announced a similar move for assistant coach Preston Murphy.

Both men are accused of accepting a $6,000 bribe during meetings with Christian Dawkins, a former runner and aspiring sports agent, according to a new federal indictment filed on Thursday. No new charges were filed in the 31-page document, but the allegations are against NCAA rules.

The two coaches are accused of having separate meetings with Dawkins in July 2017 to help steer players to a new sports agency that Dawkins was hoping to start. An undercover law enforcement agent was responsible for the payment to both coaches.

Barker and Dawkins allegedly spoke over the phone and arranged a meeting between a TCU player likely to be drafted and Dawkins in the summer of 2017. Attempting to steer that unidentified TCU player in the direction of Dawkins for representation, Barker allegedly told Dawkins that signing the TCU player as a future client would be a “layup.”

Creighton and Murphy have been linked in the past during the recruitment of former McDonald’s All-American Brian Bowen Jr. — a player that Dawkins was connected to behind the scenes. In federal court in October, Brian Bowen Sr. testified that Dawkins helped broker an offer through Murphy where the Bowen family would receive $100,000 and two jobs if Bowen played at Creighton. Officials from Creighton have denied that claim.

Both Barker and Murphy have coached all season until being placed on leave on Friday.

Dawkins and former Adidas executive Merl Code were convicted of fraud charges during that initial October trial as they helped persuade Bowen to sign with Louisville. The two men also face bribery charges in a new federal trial set for April 22.

It’s unlikely that Barker and Murphy coach again this season, as both TCU and Creighton are fighting to get into the 2019 NCAA tournament. While losing an assistant coach isn’t usually seen as a detrimental loss to on-court performance, the looming case could be a major distraction for both programs.

Seton Hall beats No. 16 Marquette, closing with 18-0 run

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NEWARK, N.J. — Seton Hall, needing a win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, closed on an 18-0 run and upset No. 16 Marquette 73-64 on Wednesday night.

Myles Powell had 10 straight points in the run, tying it at 64 with 2:55 to play and hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 left.

“That’s a big one just because of where we are this time of year and how good of a team they are,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “When you look at seedings, it’s so jumbled up, and getting a win like this just helps enormously.”

Seton Hall (17-12, 8-9 Big East) snapped a three-game losing streak and handed Marquette (23-7, 12-5) its third straight loss.

Pirates forward Michael Nzei hit four free throws in the final minute, and guard Jared Rhoden added two.

Sam Hauser led Marquette with 25 points, but the big thing was Seton Hall’s defense on Big East Conference scoring leader Markus Howard. Howard came in averaging almost 26 points in league action but was limited to six points on 2-of-11 shooting.

Seton Hall trailed 59-46 after Hauser hit a shot midway through the second half, but the Pirates finished with a 27-5 run, holding Marquette without a point for the final 4:40.

Despite committing 14 turnovers and getting only three points from Howard, the Golden Eagles led 37-31 at the half, thanks in large part to Hauser. Hauser scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and grabbed seven boards, helping Marquette hold a 27-13 edge.

The Pirates’ problem in the first half was that Nzei picked up two early fouls, with the second coming on a double technical foul when he and Theo John faced off after a basket.

BIG PICTURE:

Marquette: The Golden Eagles need Seton Hall to beat visiting Villanova on Saturday and win their game against Georgetown to share the regular-season conference title.

Seton Hall: The Pirates need another win or two to get into the NCAA tournament.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Close regular season at home against Georgetown on Saturday

Seton Hall: Close regular season at home against No. 23 Villanova. The Wildcats have clinched at least a share of the Big East regular-season title.

Howard and John lead Marquette to 79-69 win over Butler

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MILWAUKEE — Theo John made Butler pay the price for focusing on Markus Howard.

Howard scored 28 points and John added 15 points and matched his career-high with 11 rebounds as No. 11 Marquette pulled away in the second half for a 79-69 victory over Butler on Wednesday night.

“Teams have to dedicate a lot to our shooting, and teams have to dedicate a lot to Markus Howard, in particular,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “A lot of times, the second defender on Markus is the opposing team’s center. So, when we got the ball out of the trap, Theo was open. To his credit, he was able to finish.”

Marquette (22-4, 11-2 Big East) erased a eight-point deficit early in the second half with a 25-7 run.

Sean McDermott had 27 points and Kamar Baldwin 12 for Butler (15-12, 6-8).

With No. 17 Villanova’s 85-73 loss at Georgetown on Wednesday, the Golden Eagles moved into the Big East lead a half-game ahead of the Wildcats.

Howard, the Big East’s leading scorer, made 9 of 20 shots, including 6 of 13 from beyond the arc.

“They have a lot of guys who can make them, and you’ve got a lot of attention on Howard, which is tough,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “We executed well in the first half and then not as well in the second.”

John, a 6-9 sophomore forward known for his defense, made 6 of 7 shots and 3 of 4 free throws. John, the Big East’s leading shot blocker, also had three blocks to go along with his fourth double-double of the season.

“Most of the time when we have elite scorers on our team, so I don’t have to bring it up,” John said of his offense. “But, if the game brings it to me, I’m going to try and contribute at much as I can.”

Baldwin hit two free throws to put Butler in front 44-43 with 12:45 remaining, but the Golden Eagles ran off 11 consecutive points, pushing the lead to 54-44 on John’s rebound dunk.

Jordan Tucker ended Butler’s scoring drought of almost 5 1/2 minutes with a 3-pointer. On the ensuing possession, Howard was fouled on a 3 and converted the four-point play to make it 58-47 with 6:48 remaining.

Marquette was playing for the first time in eight days, but John said the layoff was not a factor in the slow start.

“I’d say it was just concentration, a lack of focus,” he said. “We came out kind of slow, and Butler came ready to play. They punched in this mouth and we just came back and kind of gathered ourself, and we responded.”

Marquette made 16 of 27 shots in the second for 59.3 percent, including 7 of 11 from three-point range. The Golden Eagles, outrebounded 20-14 in the first half, had a 21-11 advantage on the boards after the break.

Butler scored the first seven points of the second half to go up 37-29, but Marquette answered with eight consecutive points, pulling even at 37 on John’s layin.

Marquette trailed 26-18, but closed the half with an 11-4 run.

“The second half, they made an adjustment or two, and countered,” Jordan said. “Give them credit. And, then we had to adjust, but they got a rhythm going in that second half that we didn’t allow them to get in the first.”

BIG PICTURE

Butler: The Bulldogs entered Wednesday in a six-team logjam in the middle of the conference, one game behind St. John’s and Seton Hall in the win column, and a game ahead of Georgetown, DePaul and Xavier.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles have five regular-season games against teams they already have beaten. But, except for a 79-68 home victory over Providence, each of the other four games were decided by four points or less.

HOWARD MOVES UP

Howard pushed his career scoring total to 1,772 points, moving past Dominic James (1,749) into fourth on the Marquette all-time scoring list. Howard, a 5-11 junior guard, now is just one point behind George Thompson, who played from 1966-69. Jerel McNeal is Marquette’s career scoring leader with 1,985 points.

UP NEXT

Butler hosts Providence on Tuesday.

Marquette is at Providence on Saturday

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Georgetown knocks off No. 17 Villanova 85-73

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WASHINGTON — Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas and Villanova added another bit of history to the teams’ rivalry.

Ewing, whose collegiate career ended in a stunning loss to the Wildcats in the 1985 national championship game, earned his biggest coaching victory to date against Villanova.

Jessie Govan had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Mac McClung scored 21 points and Georgetown beat No. 17 Villanova 85-73 on Wednesday night, snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Wildcats.

Georgetown (16-10, 6-7 Big East) beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 2017, and Ewing earned his first win against a Top-25 foe in eight tries.

“My son brought that to my attention by the way,” Ewing said of the fact that he had yet to take out a ranked team, something he accomplished with regularity as a player.

James Akinjo had 10 points and nine assists as the Hoyas ended a two-game slide and beat Villanova at home for the first time since 2015.

“We have to build on this, it can’t be just a one game thing,” Ewing said. “We have five more games to go and our dreams and our goals are to make the NCAA Tournament.”

Georgetown has missed the last three postseasons.

Villanova (20-7, 11-3) lost consecutive conference games for the first time since realignment in 2013 — a span of 104 games.

Phil Booth had 26 points, and Eric Paschall added 16 as Villanova lost for the third time in four conference games after starting 10-0 in Big East play. Colin Gillespie scored 13 points after having a career-high 30 in the teams’ first meeting.

The Hoyas took a 42-32 lead into halftime after shooting 7 of 18 from 3-point distance. McClung scored 17 of his 21 points in the first period and it was his hot start that carried Georgetown early. In the teams’ first meeting, he had a poor performance, going 2 for 11 from the field and finishing with four points, well below his average of 13.

“We knew he was much better than how he played against us the first time,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

“That allowed him to get it going, and you know, a guy like that, he’s a born scorer once he gets it going. It’s hard to stop.”

Villanova cut the Hoyas’ lead to 50-43 after Booth hit a 3-pointer, but Georgetown responded with an 8-0 run as a 3 by Govan pushed the lead to 58-43 with 13:13 left. The Wildcats never got closer than nine the rest of the way.

Georgetown shot 51 percent from the field and held Villanova to just 38 percent. The Hoyas’ bench outscored the Wildcats’ subs 22-9. Kaleb Johnson led the way for Georgetown with eight points.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: After winning the first four regular-season championships in the reconfigured Big East, the Wildcats are now in danger of finishing second for a second straight season after moving one game behind Marquette in the loss column.

Georgetown: The Hoyas have already surpassed last season’s win total of 15 games with five games remaining before the conference tournament. Georgetown finished 5-13 in league play in each of the last two seasons.

STEPPING UP

Govan, Georgetown’s leading scorer, was held scoreless in the first meeting back on Feb. 3, but responded with his league-leading eighth double-double of the season in earning his first win over Villanova.

“Last time we played they held me scoreless, so I definitely came in with a little chip on my shoulder,” Govan said. “I wanted to bounce back from that game.”

UP NEXT

Villanova: Completes a three-game trip at Xavier on Sunday.

Georgetown: At Creighton on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25