"I thought our guys played the scouting report about as well as they have all year round," said MU Coach Buzz Williams. "This was our best field goal percentage game in the Big East and they have a lot of very talented players who can score in a multitude of ways, so we're just thankful it's over."
After trailing by as many as seven points in the first half, the Golden Eagles went on a 26-10 run spanning the last 4:22 of the first half and the first 11:10 of the second half.
Lazar Hayward scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the victory, his seventh double-double of the season. The 18 points moves him into seventh place on Marquette's all time scoring list, passing Wesley Matthews and Tony Smith.
"I think I am very lucky and I am blessed to have had an opportunity to [accomplish] that (the record), but I can't really say that I think about it, I just try and do my best to help us win," Hayward said.
One of the main reasons for Marquette's success was their defensive effort. MU held USF to just 35 percent shooting from the field and limited the Bulls to 0-of-14 three-point shooting after they hit four-of-their-first-seven from downtown.
"I thought DJO (Darius Johnson-Odom) was the player of the game. He expended about 98% of his energy on that end of the floor, and that's what gave us our best chance for success," said Williams. "Credit to DJO, but credit to our team as well because we can't [always] guard [Jones] one-on-one."
Dominique Jones scored just 16 points, nine below his average during BIG EAST conference play. Jones was a mere 6-of-21 from the field and perhaps more importantly, was held to just four free-throw attempts, after he had averaged over 10 attempts during BIG EAST play.
Prior to tonight's game, Jones had made some comments on his Facebook page, guaranteeing a four game winning streak. South Florida coach Stan Heath addressed this issue after the game.
"He's a kid. He's never been in this situation before," commented Heath. "With Dominique, he's like a furnace. He can heat up your house or he can burn it down and so it's important that I allow him to heat it up but I've got to be careful not to let him burn it down."
In addition to Hayward's astute performance, three other MU players scored in double figures. Junior forward Jimmy Butler chipped in with 15 points and senior guards Maurice Acker and David Cubillan added 14 and 11, respectively.
Acker also dished out 6 assists without turning the ball over once. He improved his BIG EAST-Leading assist-to-turnover ratio to 4.6 in conference games. Marquette, as a team, turned the ball over just six times while turning USF's 12 turnovers into 18 fast break points.
One struggle for the Golden Eagles was their ability to contain the Bulls on the offensive boards. South Florida grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and outscored Marquette 12-0 on second-chance points.
Marquette will return to the Bradley Center on Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Panthers come to town. Tip is set for 8 p.m. CT and can be seen nationally on ESPN.
GAME NOTES: Marquette is 13-0 this season when shooting a higher field goal percentage than the opponent. The win is Marquette's 50th in BIG EAST play since joining the conference in 2005-06.