Seton Hall-Marquette Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- The ability to finally win close games has kept Marquette undefeated in the Big East and ranked for the first time this season.
Looking to continue their recent home success, the No. 25 Golden Eagles can start 4-0 in the league for the first time in four seasons by handing Seton Hall a fourth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.
Riding a season-high five-game winning streak, Marquette (12-3, 3-0) joins top-ranked Louisville and No. 6 Syracuse as the lone unbeatens in the Big East. The Golden Eagles recorded their first road win of the season, 74-67 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Saturday.
After losing to Butler and Green Bay by a combined three points earlier in the season, the Golden Eagles have two overtime victories and beat then-No. 15 Georgetown 49-48 at home on Jan. 5 to open Big East play. Marquette began the extra period Saturday with an 8-2 run after the Panthers forced overtime with a late 3-pointer.
"We are just not very good," said Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whose teams are 15-15 in games decided by three points or fewer since he took over in 2008-09. "That's why they are close games.
"I do think that when you don't have much of a margin you begin to become accustomed to 'this is what it's going to be when we compete.' I do think our team has grown over the last two and a half weeks, three weeks. It helps when you have success."
Marquette looks to continue that success while trying to start 4-0 in the Big East for the first time since beginning 9-0 in Williams' first season. It has a good chance to do so at home, where it's won 18 in a row overall and 11 straight in the conference. The Golden Eagles last lost a Big East contest at the Bradley Center on March 3, 2011, falling 67-60 to Cincinnati.
Leading scorer Vander Blue (13.9 points per game), who scored 22 at Pitt, has averaged 16.0 points and shot 51.9 percent (27 of 52) in the last six games. Despite being held to two points against Georgetown, point guard Junior Cadougan has averaged 13.7 in the last six at home but it's uncertain he'll play after suffering an ankle injury Saturday.
If Cadougan can't go, Williams would again turn to sophomore reserve Derrick Wilson, who had one point but kept things under control while committing one turnover in a career-high 31 minutes at Pitt.
"I felt I was ready for it," said Wilson, who has a 2.82 assist-to-turnover ratio. "I've learned a lot from Junior and seen him handle situations like (this) and my teammates put me in position."
Regardless who is running the offense, the Golden Eagles should be confident as they try for a sixth consecutive home victory over Seton Hall (12-5, 1-3). Blue had 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and eight rebounds in the teams' only meeting last season, a 66-59 home win for Marquette on Jan. 31.
Fuquan Edwin, who had 13 points in that contest, leads Seton Hall at 17.6 points per game. He had 17 in the Pirates' 67-55 home loss to Providence on Sunday. Seton Hall has dropped its last three league games by an average 15.4 points.
The Pirates have lost five straight road games against ranked opponents since a 90-68 win at No. 9 Syracuse on Jan. 25, 2011.
Updated January 15, 2013