Thursday , Jan , 04 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Golden Eagles open up Big East play at Providence

Providence, RI (Sports Network) – Big East Conference play gets underway
tonight for a pair of impressive early-season clubs, as the 15th-ranked
Marquette Golden Eagles swoop into the Dunkin Donuts Center to take on
the Providence Friars.

Marquette has won four straight to run its overall mark to an impressive 13-2,
but the Golden Eagles are playing only their second true road game of the
season, and they will actually play five of their eight games in the month of
January away from home. MU finished its non-conference slate with a 69-51
drubbing of Savannah State last Saturday.

As for Providence, it has won four of its last five to move to 10-3 on the
year, with all 10 wins coming at home. The Friars were last in action on
Tuesday night when they blasted the visiting Longwood Lancers, 107-69. It
was the second time in the last three games that PC exceeded the 100-point
mark, so offensive production is hardly an area of concern at the moment.

The all-time series between these two teams is knotted at 3-3, and
Marquette claimed victory in the most recent meeting, taking an 88-78
decision from the Friars last March.

Solid play at both ends of the court has propelled the Golden Eagles to
the lofty heights they have achieved thus far, as the team is averaging
74 ppg while giving up just 59.3 ppg. Led by Dominic James and his 17 ppg,
Marquette is shooting 46.1 percent from the field, although its showing from
beyond the arc could stand some improvement as only 33.2 percent of its
three-point tries have found the bottom of the net. Jerel McNeal and
Wesley Matthews are also averaging double digits in the scoring column,
checking in at 14.5 and 11.5 ppg, respectively, while Ousmane Barro
spearheads the team’s rebounding effort by grabbing 6.3 rpg. Despite a cool
start, Marquette topped Savannah State last time out by shooting 58.3
percent from the floor in the second half and by outscoring its
overmatched opponent at the free-throw line, 22-5. James and Matthews scored
22 points apiece, with the latter nearly completing the double-double by
adding nine rebounds.

Longwood was no match for the Friars in their recent meeting, as the
Lancers shot just 35.5 percent from the field, suffered 23 turnovers and
allowed Providence to make good on 57.8 percent of its total shots,
including a 63.6 percent clip in the second half. A total of six Friars
reached double figures in the rout, led by Herbert Hill’s double-double
performance which consisted of 17 points and 13 rebounds. As expected, and
with Hill leading the way, the Friars dominated the paint, outscoring the
Lancers 60-16. Hill continues to shine in 2006-07, averaging 15.5 points
and 7.2 caroms per contest. He is shooting an eye-popping 73.1 percent
from the field and has logged 34 blocks already. Weyinmi Efejuku is netting
15.2 ppg and has hit a team-best 23 three-pointers, while Geoff McDermott
pitches in with 11.1 ppg and is handing out 5.4 apg. As a team, Providence is
putting up 80.5 ppg on 50.5 percent shooting from the field, while pulling
down nearly 10 rebounds per game more than the opposition.