MU survives Seton Hall, advances in BET

NEW YORK – Jerel McNeal scored a game-high 21 points as No. 24 Marquette (23-8, 12-7 Big East) advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament with a victory over Seton Hall (17-15, 7-12 Big East) that was much closer than the 67-54 final score would indicate

NEW YORKJerel McNeal scored a game-high 21 points as No. 24 Marquette (23-8, 12-7 Big East) advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament with a victory over Seton Hall (17-15, 7-12 Big East) that was much closer than the 67-54 final score would indicate.

"We knew in this game we were going to get [Seton Hall's] best shot," said Marquette Head Coach Tom Crean. "{We knew] we were going to get a very hungry and spirited team, which we did."

Marquette finished the game on a 15-1 run, extending a one-point advantage to the game's final tally.

"We're proud of the way we played in the second half," said Crean. "I thought our guys showed incredible maturity."

Dominic James helped key the run by recording all of his game-high four steals during the final stretch, denying Seton Hall much-needed possessions.

Maurice Acker also made key contributions, scoring all of his five points during that span. Acker hit a three-pointer with 5:35 to play to begin the run, then hit an improbable 20-foot floater as the shot-clock expired a few possessions later.

Overall, it was a slow-paced, back-and forth game that featured seven ties and five lead changes. Before Marquette's final run, the biggest lead for either team was six points, held by the Golden Eagles on three separate occasions.

The abundance of fouls in Wednesday night's game also contributed to the plodding pace. The 42 total fouls whistled in the contest eclipsed a Big East Tournament record for fouls in a game. The previous high was 33 in a game between Seton Hall and Pittsburgh in 1981. During a 2:26 stretch midway through the second half, nine of 12 possessions resulted in free-throw shots.

The already short-handed Pirates had three players foul out, with John Garcia accomplishing the feat with 8:46 to play in the game and Okosun doing so with 7:00 remaining.

"We just didn't have enough bodies," said Seton Hall Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez. "In some ways it was good the game ended because we had nobody else to put in."

McNeal shot 7-of-15 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line while recording nine rebounds.

"He's not only one of the best players in the conference," said Crean of McNeal, "but I think he's one of the best players in the country. He plays both ends of the floor with an absolute vengeance, and that's what separates him."

Lazar Hayward also notched a double-double for Marquette, scoring 15 points and pulling in 10 rebounds, and Dominic James finished the night with 11 points and five rebounds.

Eugene Harvey and Jamar Nutter led Seton Hall with 13 points apiece.

The Golden Eagles' defense held Brian Laing, the Big East's second-leading scorer at 19.0 points-per-game, to six points on 3-of-10 shooting.

"They played very aggressive on defense and did a lot of switching and just made it hard for me to get any open looks," said Laing.

Marquette's victory marked the first time since 1997 that the higher-seeded team won all games in the opening round of the tournament.

Marquette advances to play Notre Dame, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, on Thursday night. The two schools have met 110 times in their history, but never at Madison Square Garden.


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