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Golden Eagles hope to end skid in clash with Red Storm

11:10 AM, Jan 11, 2012   |    comments
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Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - Clinging to the final spot in this week's AP poll, the Marquette Golden Eagles play host to the St. John's Red Storm this evening in a Big East Conference clash at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

St. John's is a game over .500 on the year (8-7), and coach Steve Lavin's team is an even 2-2 in conference. The Red Storm are coming off a 57-55 win at Cincinnati, putting the brakes on a brief two-game losing streak. It was SJU's first win in a true road game this season.

Marquette got off to a 10-0 start, but the team has lost four of its last six since, including the last two. Now in fairness to the Golden Eagles, their most recent setbacks occurred against ranked foes in No. 9 Georgetown (73-70) and No. 1 Syracuse (73-66) -- they do have a win over a ranked Wisconsin club from early December on their resume'. This game kicks off a three-game homestand for MU, which is 7-1 at the Bradley Center this season.

Marquette owns a 13-6 lead in the all-time series with St. John's, but the Red Storm prevailed in the most recent meeting, 80-68, last February.

With a record hovering right around .500, it's not surprising that St. John's is averaging roughly the same amount of points as it allows (67.3 ppg to 66.3 ppg). The team is hitting its field goals 42.6 percent of the time, but three- pointers are falling at a dismal 25.5 percent clip. Despite that, the Red Storm boast three active double-digit scorers, with D'Angelo Harrison leading the way with 16.0 ppg. Harrison, who shoots just 37.8 percent from the floor, also leads the team in steals (25) while coming in second in assists (31). Moe Harkless (15.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and God'sgift Achiuwa (11.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) round out the trio for SJU, which took out Cincinnati last weekend thanks to a stingy defensive effort that allowed the Bearcats to connect on only 26.3 percent of their total shots, which included a 7-of-32 effort from beyond the arc. Harrison scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Red Storm, while Harkless logged a double-double consisting of 14 points and as many boards.

Despite their recent struggles, the Golden Eagles haven't had much trouble putting points on the scoreboard this season, as they average 77.3 ppg in hitting 45.8 percent of their field goal attempts. Darius Johnson-Odom (18.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg) and Jae Crowder (16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 31 steals, 14 blocks) have been the most consistent performers for coach Buzz Williams' club, but guys like Todd Mayo (9.8 ppg), Vander Blue (8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Davante Gardner (8.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) have made significant contributions as well. Defensively, MU is yielding a .397 FG percentage to the opposition, and the team comes up with more than 17 turnovers per outing. Johnson-Odom scored 19 points and Crowder added 15 more, but those effort couldn't help the Golden Eagles upset the top-ranked team in the land, as Syracuse prevailed in a 73-66 final last Saturday. Neither team shot the ball well as both finished right around 40 percent, but the Orange claimed a 43-36 rebounding edge, and its reserves outscored Marquette's, 31-4.

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