Marquette (25-9, 6th seed)led throughout much of the game and was keyed in the second half by a 15 foot right fall away jumper by Jerel McNeal just as the shot clock was running out. Earlier, Marquette built up a lead of 11 points on some sharp shooting by McNeal and a thunderous dunk by Lazar Hayward.
It was MU's first NCAA tournament victory since 2003, when it beat No. 1 ranked 83-69 Kentucky in the regional final Minneapolis.
In the NCAA post game interview room, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews were two tired but happy players.
"We've grown so much just since my first year here," said McNeal, a junior from Chicago who lost to Alabama in his first NCAA Tournament game.. "We had spurts through those 40 minutes that weren't always the best Marquette team that we could put out there, but the most important thing, we just stayed with it. Nobody dropped their heads."
Wes Matthews made 8 FTs in 8 attempts…"It was just a matter of going up there and making them," said Matthews. "It's easy to make them when your whole team and coaches have this confidence in you, and coach is drawing up the play to give me the ball in that position. We had a lead and didn't want to lose it. They threw their punch and we threw ours right back."
As we mentioned at the site when the pairings were announce, MU and UK met for the 10th time in the NCAA tourney's most-played matchup. Marquette is now 6-4 in the series, and has now beaten UK for their last two tournament wins
Marquette will play Stanford in the second round game on Saturday.