The Golden Eagles are back on the road Saturday with a matchup against the Providence Friars on the docket. No. 14/14 Marquette (15-2, 4-0) will look to extend its current seven game win streak after an impressive 75-53 victory over West Virginia last time out. Providence (11-5, 3-1) will aim to beat Marquette for the first time since January 4, 2007.
Right now, the Friars appears to be a team situated higher in the Big East than they may ultimately finish, and theyare still in search of a key victory in a campaign that has included few disappointing losses to Northeastern and Saint Mary's (CA). In its last contest, Providence was brought back to reality by Georgetown in an 82-75 defeat – the Friars' first lost in Big East play after starting with consecutive victories over St. John's, DePaul, and Cincinnati.
Providence is lead offensively by senior Weyinmi Efejuku, who is averaging a solid 13.9 points per game (ppg). Efejuku is a larger guard, as is Marshon Brooks, a sophomore averaging nearly 13 ppg. Brooks comes off the bench to provide a spark for the Providence offense, and is a scoring threat capable of a big outburst, as shown in his 30-points game against Sacred Heart earlier this season.
Senior Geoff McDermott may be the most recognizable name in the Providence lineup. McDermott garnered Honorable Mention All Conference honors last season, and though his scoring is down a bit, he still averages over eight points and rebounds per contest and chips in three assists per match, to boot. McDermott has produced four double-doubles already this season and will certainly present a formidable task for Marquette's post players.
Junior point guard Sharaud Curry can easily be considered one of the main catalysts of the Friars' offensive attack. Curry leads Providence in minutes played and dishes out close to five assists per game to go with nine ppg. The Golden Eagles will need to cut off offensive distribution from Curry. Senior forward Jonathon Kale (10 ppg, 5 rpg) and senior guard Jeff Xavier (9.1 ppg) will likely round out the starting lineup for the Friars.
Providence is not an overly large team, or at least not a team Marquette will need to worry about being outsized against. The Friar's starting five will likely not include a player over 6'8", a welcome challenge by a Golden Eagles squad that has been much maligned for its lack of size. That being said, senior Randall Hanke is a 6'11" center who is currently second in the Big East in field goal percentage and averages close to nine points and five boards per game.
Saturday's match-up will feature two coaches who are each in their freshman campaign in the Big East. Coach Buzz Williams has certainly done a fantastic job for Marquette so far, but he was not quite the offseason commodity in the coaching market that Providence's Keno Davis was. Davis made a highly publicized move from Drake this past offseason after being named Missouri Valley Coach of the Year in his first year as a head coach. But his career at Providence began on a sour note with a 70-66 loss to Northeastern. He has since righted the ship, as the Friars are 11-4 since that loss.
This is another game that, on paper, the Golden Eagles will be expected to win, and it is definitely a game Marquette needs to take in order to stay atop the Big East at the end of the season. Marquette, per usual, will rely heavily on its Big Four for offensive support – specifically senior guard Jerel McNeal, who is scoring 23 ppg in Big East play. No road game in the Big East is ever easy, but the Golden Eagles seem to match-up well with Providence and easily handled a very similar Friars squad last season, 96-67.
The game is scheduled to tip at 8:00 PM CST and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.