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9:00 AM PT10:00 AM MT11:00 AM CT12:00 PM ET5:00 PM GMT1:00 PM 北京时间10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST, Jan 6, 2019
Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin  Attendance: 17,309

Xavier-Marquette Preview

Defense has been the driving force behind Marquette's resurgence. At least that was the case prior to conference play.

The Golden Eagles get a big test Sunday in a Big East Conference clash with Xavier.

The much-improved defense never made it to the floor Tuesday night in New York City, looking a lot like the defense that kept Marquette out of the NCAA Tournament last season. It couldn't keep St. John's out of the lane, allowing 54 percent field goal shooting en route to an 89-69 loss in its conference opener.

The 16th-ranked Golden Eagles will try to fix their issues from that game on the friendly floor of brand-new Fiserv Forum, where they are 10-0 and allowing opponents to convert only 35.7 percent from the field and 27 percent of their 3-point attempts.

And in fairness to Marquette (11-3, 0-1), the Musketeers (9-6, 1-1) won't be attacking them with Shamorie Ponds, the St. John's junior who has torched it for 44 and 26 points the last two times he's seen the Golden Eagles.

"Offensively, they're a juggernaut," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said of the Red Storm. "You're looking at one of the top 20 teams in the country."

Xavier has exhibited a bit of a dropoff this season under first-year coach Travis Steele, who took over after Chris Mack agreed to take lots of money to steer Louisville through the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Musketeers still have good players, just not as many of them as they had the last few years. With a reduced margin for error, Xavier can't afford stretches like it had Wednesday night, when it coughed up five turnovers in nine possessions at one stretch of the second half.

That was enough for Seton Hall to make its move. The Musketeers' halftime lead disappeared and a comeback wasn't about to happen. Xavier walked off its floor 80-70 losers, a result that aggravated players and coaches alike.

"We let one slip away, that's how frustrated I am," guard Paul Scruggs said to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

A weekend trip to Milwaukee may not be the ideal venue for the Musketeers to rebound - figuratively and literally. The Golden Eagles lead the conference in four different rebounding categories, but only managed a 35-35 tie on the glass at St. John's.

Add Markus Howard's Tuesday night struggles to the mix and Xavier has another layer of concern. Howard entered the conference opener averaging just over 25 points per game, but made only 2-of-15 shots against the Red Storm and finished with a season-low eight points.

"I just didn't make shots," Howard said. "I didn't play good at all. That was on me."

Xavier has won nine of 12 meetings between the teams since joining the Big East prior to the 2013-14 season. It swept last season's series, taking a 91-87 decision in Milwaukee and coasting to an 89-70 win at Cintas Center.

Marquette would be well-advised to tap into its new homecourt edge in this one. A visit to Creighton Wednesday night and a home date with Seton Hall on Jan. 12 have the potential to leave the Golden Eagles 0-4 in the conference if they don't take care of business on Sunday.

Updated January 5, 2019

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