Carolina routs Marquette 95-63 in Davis’ NCAA coaching debut

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas – Hubert Davis was quick to point out the first NCAA Tournament victory for Caleb Love and other North Carolina players.

The Tar Heels coach was less interested in what it meant to win his tournament debut for a storied program that also is his alma mater.

Brady Manek scored 28 points and Love needed just 19 minutes to tie Carolina’s single-game tournament record of six 3-pointers in a 95-63 rout of Marquette on Thursday, the biggest blowout in a matchup of 8-9 seeds in tournament history.

Love scored 21 of his 23 points before halftime as the eighth-seeded Tar Heels (25-9) built a 28-point lead. They play defending national champion Baylor on Saturday.

The win was in stark contrast to last year, when the Tar Heels sent Roy Williams into retirement with his only opening-round loss in 30 NCAA appearances.

“Honestly, it really doesn’t mean anything to me personally,” said Davis, a player from 1988-92. “When I see Caleb and Brady and Armando (Bacot) playing well like they did today, I know all the hard work that was put in during the summer and late nights, early in the mornings. It’s almost like a father. I’ve got three kids, and it’s a feeling of just being proud.”

Shaka Smart’s return to Texas was a dud a year after he took the Marquette job amid questions about his future as coach of the Texas Longhorns following a shocking first-round loss to Abilene Christian.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper scored 16 points for the No. 9 seed Golden Eagles (19-13), who lost their third consecutive first-round game.

“I told the guys in the locker room after the game, we’re not going to evaluate the entirety of our season based on one game,” Smart said. “We’re obviously really, really disappointed and upset with how today’s game went. It’s not up to standard that we set.”

Manek, the Oklahoma transfer who had a pair of first-round wins with the Sooners, finished with five 3s as he and Love combined to go 11 of 23 from long range.

Bacot matched Manek’s double-double while grabbing 10 rebounds on his way to the school season record (422). He scored 17 points. RJ Davis had a career-high 12 assists.

Smart, who lost all three of his first-round games in six seasons with the Longhorns, had one of three Marquette technical fouls in a span of 90 seconds late in the first half when he complained about a no-call. Kur Kuath got one for hanging on the rim after a dunk. Darryl Morsell was penalized on review after a scramble for a loose ball.

Just before the tech spree, Morsell ended up nose-to-nose with Love after trying to take the ball out of his hands when Love was called for stepping on the midcourt line while trying to dribble around the stocky Marquette guard.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Love said. “We don’t back down from anything. Just my competitive nature and my team’s competitive nature, just came out and, you know, we played it smart.”

The Tar Heels were already up 18 when players from both teams had to be separated. It quickly got worse from there.

Carolina finished the first half on a 16-4 run for a 53-25 lead, and Manek made it a 34-point game (67-33) with consecutive 3s early in the second half. The biggest lead for the Tar Heels was 35.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: The last time Carolina played Marquette in the NCAA Tournament, in 2011, the Tar Heels had 25 points at halftime. They bounced back to win that game 81-63.

Marquette: A solid shooting team most of the season, the Golden Eagles struggled badly from the field early. They were shooting 22% after three misses at the rim in the same sequence. They finished at 36%.

NO BACKING DOWN

After the Love-Morsell standoff, Davis turned to his bench with emphatic words of encouragement.

“I’ve been clear and definitive to the guys about what we need to do out there on the floor,” Davis said. “There’s been a number of times where teams have tried to push us around. And the only way that you can change that narrative of people thinking they can do that is if you swing back and be the first one to swing.”

All-Big East: Gillespie unanimous, Champagnie honored again

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Villanova guard Collin Gillespie was the only unanimous pick for the all-Big East team Sunday, and St. John’s forward Julian Champagnie joined him as a repeat selection.

Connecticut guard R.J. Cole and forward Adama Sanogo also were on the first team, along with Marquette forward Justin Lewis and Seton Hall swingman Jared Rhoden.

Gillespie, the co-Big East player of the year last season, is averaging 16.3 points per game to pace the 11th-ranked Wildcats. He leads the conference in 3-point shooting (43.1%) and free-throw percentage (91.5%).

Champagnie is averaging 18.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. He just missed winning the Big East scoring title for the second consecutive year, nipped by Lewis in the final game of the regular season.

Two players from regular-season champion Providence were included on the all-Big East second team: guard Jared Bynum and center Nate Watson. Joining them were DePaul guard Javon Freeman-Liberty, Creighton forward Ryan Hawkins and Villanova guard Justin Moore.

Receiving honorable mention were St. John’s point guard Posh Alexander, Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner, Marquette guard Darryl Morsell and Xavier center Jack Nunge.

The conference’s head coaches vote for the all-conference teams and are not allowed to pick their own players.

The league’s player of the year will come from the all-Big East first team. The winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden before the Big East Tournament opener, when the conference also reveals its coach of the year, freshman of the year and scholar-athlete of the year.

Creighton had three players on the all-freshman team: guard Trey Alexander, forward Arthur Kaluma and point guard Ryan Nembhard, who was chosen Big East rookie of the week six times before a season-ending wrist injury late last month.

Nembhard was a unanimous selection to the all-freshman team, along with Georgetown guard Aminu Mohammed and Marquette guard Kam Jones. UConn guard Jordan Hawkins also made the squad.

Late layup by Hawkins lifts Creighton past Marquette

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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OMAHA, Neb.- Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 21 points and Ryan Hawkins made a layup with 1:55 left to give Creighton the lead en route to an 83-82 win over Marquette on Sunday.

Hawkins’ layup capped a 7-1 run for the Bluejays. Neither team scored again until the final eight seconds.

Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard missed a 3-pointer with 17 seconds to go. Creighton momentarily had the offensive rebound but wound up giving the ball away. The Bluejays’ Rati Andronikashvili got the ball back with a steal with eight seconds to go and the Blue Jays finished it off with 3 of 4 free throws.

Marquette’s Kam Jones made a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.

Nembhard had 18 points for Creighton (18-8, 10-5 Big East Conference), which earned its fifth consecutive win. Hawkins added 17 points and nine rebounds. Trey Alexander had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Darryl Morsell had 23 points for the Golden Eagles (17-10, 9-7). Kam Jones added 18 points. Justin Lewis had 11 points and seven rebounds.

The Bluejays improved to 2-0 against the Golden Eagles on the season. Creighton defeated Marquette 75-69 on Jan. 1.

Butler uses 3-point flurry to beat No. 18 Marquette, 85-79

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — Bryce Golden scored a career-high 22 points and Bo Hodges added 11 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday to help the Butler Bulldogs hold on for a surprising 85-79 victory over No. 18 Marquette.

The Bulldogs (12-13, 5-9 Big East) never trailed, and snapping a three-game losing streak.

Justin Lewis led Marquette with 27 points and nine rebounds. Tyler Kolek had 17 points as the Golden Eagles (16-9, 8-6) lost for the second time in five days.

The Bulldogs took advantage quickly, making six of their first eight from behind the arc to jump to a 26-11 lead. A 7-0 run helped Butler extend the margin to as much as 21 in the first half before the Golden Eagles started fighting back.

Marquette cut the halftime deficit to 42-27, opened the second half with the first five points. After watching Butler rebuild a 55-39 lead, the Golden Eagles answered with seven straight points to get within 60-55 with 7:44 left.

Butler scored the next five, though, and the Golden Eagles never got closer than four the rest of the game as the teams largely matched baskets and free throws.

Marquette had won the previous three matchups against Butler.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles have played better than expected this season. But losses at No. 24 UConn followed by a subpar showing at Butler didn’t help. With no more ranked teams between now and the conference tournament, Marquette needs to rebound.

Butler: These were the Bulldogs fans expected season. They were fast and efficient on offense and pestered Marquette defensively. One more win would get Butler back to .500, a major accomplishment given how this season has gone. The question is whether the Bulldogs can use this win to make a postseason push.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Marquette opened this week with its highest ranking in nearly two years. Two losses in five days, especially this one, will certainly send the Golden Eagles sliding. The question is how much they’ll fall in Monday’s rankings.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Returns home to face Georgetown on Wednesday.

Butler: Begins a two-game road trip Tuesday at DePaul.

Sanogo, Martin lead No. 24 UConn over No. 18 Marquette

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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HARTFORD, Conn. — UConn had a players’ meeting after dropping back-to-back games to Creighton and Villanova to talk about getting back its identity as an aggressive, passionate team that outmuscles its opponents.

The No. 24 Huskies showed off that identity on Tuesday night, snapping a two-game losing streak with an 80-72 win over No. 18 Marquette.

Adama Sanogo scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and Tyrese Martin added 18 points and 15 boards for the Huskies (16-6, 7-4 Big East), who swept the season series with the Golden Eagles. It was Sanogo’s fifth double-double this season and Martin’s third.

“We haven’t been that team the last couple games,” Martin said. “So, we definitely embraced what coach was saying about that and wanted to come out as that team today and I feel like we did that from the start.”

Freshman Olivier-Maxence Prosper scored 18 points while Greg Elliott and Justin Lewis each had 17 for Marquette (16-8, 8-5). The Golden Eagles have dropped two out of their last three after winning seven straight.

UConn outrebounded Marquette 46-27, including 14-10 on the offensive end. The Huskies had 20 second-chance points to just 11 for the Golden Eagles.

“Tyrese and Adama played like first-team, all-league players,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “Adama played like a Big East player-of-the-year guy. That’s how you play at the top of the league, where you have multiple all-conference-level guys. So, we need those guys to show up night in and night out.”

Marquette trailed by by as many as 14 points in the first half and by 10 points at halftime but began chipping away in the second half.

A 3-pointer from Elliott cut the UConn lead to 53-50 and free throws from Oso Ighodaro cut the deficit to a single point, but Marquette never took the lead.

“We obviously didn’t get over the hump,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “We didn’t get enough rebounds. We didn’t get enough stops and UConn deserves a ton of credit for that.”

The Huskies used a 10-0 run to stretch the lead back out.

Marquette made a final push, cutting the deficit to 78-72 on a 3-pointer by Lewis with 27 seconds left before Andre Jackson finished the scoring from the foul line.

Sanogo had 14 of his points in the first half as UConn used a 17-3 run to build a 38-24 lead. That was sparked when freshman Jordan Hawkins deflected a Justin Lewis shot and hit a 3-pointer on the other end, earning a chest bump from his coach.

A short hook shot in the lane from Sanogo capped the run as the Huskies shot 59% from the floor in the first half.

Elliott scored 10 points late in the half to keep Marquette within striking distance. But a Hawkins jumper just before the halftime buzzer sent UConn into the break up 46-36.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles had won eight of its previous nine, with five of those wins over ranked teams. The only loss during that stretch came at first-place Providence by two points on Jan. 30.

UConn: UConn is 2-2 this season when playing against a top 25 program, but had not beaten a ranked opponent since its win over Auburn in the Bahamas on Nov. 24. The losses came at Seton Hall and Villanova.

HE SAID IT

Smart said he was impressed by UConn’s physicality and ability to take control of what he said was a “grown man’s game.”

“We always talk about playing with violence,” he said. “They were the more violent team today.”

ANTHEM MOMENT

The fans helped a nervous police detective through the national anthem by singing with her after she forgot the words and had to stop. They also gave her a huge ovation when she hit the big notes at the end.

“That was a cool moment,” Hurley said. “I think it energized the crowd a little bit.”

UP NEXT

Marquette: Travels to Indianapolis to take on Butler on Saturday.

UConn: The Huskies play their third straight game against a ranked opponent, visiting No. 25 Xavier on Friday.

Lewis paces Marquette to 75-64 win over No. 20 Xavier

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE- Justin Lewis had 20 points and 13 rebounds to pace Marquette to a 75-64 victory over No. 20 Xavier on Sunday.

Paul Scruggs scored on a layup to get Xavier within 64-59, but the Musketeers did not get another field goal until Jack Nunge’s basket with 34 seconds left to make it 73-64.

Xavier hit its first six shots of the second half, but was just 5 of 26 the rest of the way.

Darryl Morsell scored 19 and Kam Jones added 12 points for Marquette (14-6, 6-3 Big East), which shot 53% in the second half.

Scruggs had 13 points and Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel 12 each for Xavier (14-4, 4-3).

Xavier, which trailed 33-29 at the half, took the lead at 40-38 on a three-point play by Colby Jones. Kam Jones’ reverse layin capped a 10-point run that put Marquette in front 58-53.

Kam Jones converted a steal into a layup at the other end to put the Golden Eagles up by five with just under eight minutes left.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers are 3-3 in their last six games after an 11-1 start.

Marquette: After a road game at Seton Hall, the Golden Eagles face three ranked teams in a row – at No. 21 Providence, home vs. No. 11 Villanova and then on the road at No. 25 UConn. Marquette already has beaten Providence and Villanova.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Coupled with a 57-54 victory at No. 11 Villanova on Wednesday, Marquette could crack the Top 25. The loss could cost Xavier a spot in the rankings.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts No. 21 Providence on Wednesday.

Marquette is at Seton Hall on Wednesday.