Marquette pounds Providence
Dominic James scored 21 points and Lazar Hayward added 17 as No. 10 Marquette took advantage of shorthanded Providence in a 96-67 victory on Thursday night in the Big East men's basketball opener for both teams.
Marquette (11-1) won its seventh straight game because the Golden Eagles were too fast and too deep for Providence and suffocated the Friarsí few offensive weapons.
James had said he hoped to take advantage of Providenceís lack of depth after the Friars were missing starting point guard Sharaud Curry and backup Dwain Williams due to injuries.
James did, and got some unexpected help from Ousmane Barro, who had a season-high 14 points to go with nine rebounds, both well above his averages. Jamesí backcourtmates, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal, also had strong performances, with Matthews scoring a season-high 16 points and McNeal adding nine assists.
Brian McKenzie had 21 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range for Providence (9-4), which had a four-game winning streak snapped.
The Friars committed 17 turnovers, 12 in the first half, and Marquette opened the second half on a 22-5 run as the Friarsí frustration began to bubble.
Providenceís Jeff Xavier was called for an intentional foul on James, who clutched his right ankle after appearing to roll on it. But James shook it off, hit both free throws and then drained a 3-pointer to make it a five-point trip and give the Golden Eagles a 63-37 lead with just under 14 minutes to play.
Four minutes later, Geoff McDermott of Providence and McNeal battled for the ball and kept going after the whistle blew, both drawing technical fouls as they stood toe-to-toe even though McNeal patted McDermott as they were being separated with the Golden Eagles up 66-42.
Providence never got closer than 20 points.
Last season before their conference opener with the Friars, the Golden Eagles hurt each other when Matthews and McNeal bumped heads during a drill in practice and were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Providence won a few days later.
Marquette improved to 14-3 on their home court in the start of their third season of Big East play.
The Friars took a 7-0 lead in the first 53 seconds, but the highlights were far between. Marquette quickly answered with a 14-0 run as Providence, 6-23 in Big East openers, went more than 51/2 minutes without a point and committed six turnovers in the first eight minutes.
Providence took a 23-20 lead off Weyinmi Efejukuís slashing layup, but that would be it as Efejuku committed a team-high five turnovers.
The Golden Eagles pulled away, starting when James faked a pass and hit a 3 to tie it at 23-23. The lead was 41-32 at halftime when Barro made a nice catch and jump pass to McNeal for a layup just before the buzzer.