Golden Eagles top Islanders 86-50

A hot start from freshman guard Vander Blue ignites MU to an 86-50 victory over TexA&M Corpus Christi. The team was down after the win as Senior Joe Fulce might have ended his season and career at Marquette after suffering a significant injury to his left knee in the 2nd half

The Marquette Golden Eagles jumped out to early 25-4 lead and never looked back, taking down the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders 86-50 Tuesday night at the Bradley Center. Freshman Vander Blue had a career-high 21 points to go with five rebounds and four assists and Jimmy Butler added 15 points and nine rebounds.

Blue got the ball rolling early, scoring nine of Marquette's first 14 points on an array of drives and jumpers as the Golden Eagles jumped out to an early lead. He finished the first half with nine points and also added two rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal. Blue made the most of Dwight Buycks' absence, who missed the game with an injured ankle.

"He's just so active," Buzz Williams said of the freshman. "His activity on both ends of the floor leads to good things. He's beginning to have more comfort and is using his aggressiveness how we want on both ends, and that really positive. I think hes going to get even better."

"That's big for him," junior Jae Crowder added. "Going into these tough games, that's great to see from a freshman. I'm proud of him."

Reggie Smith had a career high five steals in the opening half, helping Marquette force the Islanders into 13 first half turnovers that the Golden Eagles turned into 22 points. The Islanders (3-6) shot just 26 percent from the field in the first half while Marquette continued its efficient play, shooting 54 percent from the field on its way to a 48-17 lead at half.

The two teams traded baskets with the game out of reach in an uneventful second half, but the Golden Eagles were given a scare and potentially bad news when senior forward Joe Fulce bumped the same left knee he had missed four games with earlier in the year with a Texas A&M Corpus Christi player.

Fulce fell to the ground writhing in pain as play continued on the other end. Once play stopped, Fulce laid on the ground for over a minute being checked out by trainer Ernest Eugene. He was eventually helped off the court by Eugene and transfer Jamil Wilson, putting no pressure on the knee.

The Golden Eagles held the advantage in points off the bench, 34-14, led by Crowder and Davante Gardner, who returned from a shoulder injury that kept him out the last two contests to finish with 10 points and three rebounds. Those two also helped Marquette score 52 points in the paint, the team's second consecutive game with 50+ points in the paint. They shot 55 percent as a team and committed just eight turnovers compared to 23 assists.

"As a team this was our best game," freshman Reggie Smith, who finished with five assists and just one turnover in 18 minutes, said. "Because we've been working so hard in practice with what we were missing, and tonight we applied what we've been doing in practice and that helped us in the long run."

Notes: Buzz Williams said Dwight Buycks could not have played tonight and is doubtful to play Saturday against Wisconsin after spraining his ankle in practice.

Joe Fulce went to the hospital with his knee injury, and the team was on their way to the hospital after the game.

Buzz Williams was not entirely impressed with Davante Gardner's performance but said he looked healthy.

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