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Looking to pull away in Big East, No. 10 Marquette visits No. 21 UConn

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Two of the top teams in the Big East will face off on Tuesday night when No. 10 Marquette travels to Hartford, Conn., for a meeting with No. 21 UConn.

Marquette (19-5, 11-2 Big East) is tied with Xavier atop the Big East standings. UConn (18-6, 7-6) enters the matchup in sixth place in the conference.

Guard Tyler Kolek had 13 points and eight assists to help Marquette extend its winning streak to five games with a 60-52 victory over Butler on Saturday. The Golden Eagles have won 10 of their last 11 games. Kolek is averaging 7.9 assists per game, which leads the Big East.

Marquette had a 16-3 lead early in the first half, but struggled to score after that against the Bulldogs.

“Obviously not one of our better offensive games, but the defensive effort was terrific,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “The goal is to be high-level at both ends of the floor.”

Marquette outscored Butler 7-0 in the final 34 seconds of the first half — 5-0 in the final four seconds — and led 32-20 at halftime.

“We have to be vicious,” added Marquette guard Chase Ross, who scored 10 points in the win. “That was our motto for today: Be vicious. We just have to fight through everything. They set a lot of screens, so we’ve got to get through them and stay solid.”

UConn avoided a major upset by scoring eight of the game’s final nine points in Saturday’s 68-62 triumph over Georgetown, which resides at the bottom of the Big East standings. It was the second straight victory for the Huskies since they dropped an 82-79 decision to Xavier.

Georgetown led 61-60 with 4:42 to play, but freshman Alex Karaban made a 3-pointer that ignited UConn’s 8-1 spurt. Karaban sealed the win by making another 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.

“I’ve been trying to develop a mindset where, if I’m open, shoot it,” Karaban said. “So, I saw it was open. I saw the shot clock winding down, just to let it fly and have trust in my shot. Just be more aggressive, which I thought I did in the second half, unlike the first half.”

Karaban scored all 11 of his points after halftime.

“We’re lucky to have him in a UConn uniform,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said of Karaban. “The kid is so surprising. There’s not many freshmen in the country that have been as consistent, solid. He’s made our team so much better this year with his understanding of the game.”

UConn has two of the Big East’s top three scorers in Adama Sanogo (17.2 points per game) and Jordan Hawkins (16.3 ppg). Kam Jones is Marquette’s leading scorer and ranks ninth in the conference with 16.3 points per game.

Hawkins ranks first in the Big East in made 3-pointers per game (2.9), while Jones is second in that category (2.8).

Oso Ighodaro scored 19 points in Marquette’s 82-76 triumph over UConn when the teams met in Milwaukee last month. The Golden Eagles rallied from an 11-point, first-half deficit in that contest.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 17 points for the Golden Eagles and Jones finished with 15 against the Huskies. UConn received 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from 7-foot-2 freshman Donovan Clingan in the loss.

–Field Level Media

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