The Sports Xchange takes a look at Villanova heading into its game Sunday at Pitt.
Pitt 58, Marquette 51
Led by junior center Gary McGhee's 10 points and six blocked shots, No. 19 Pittsburgh topped Marquette 58-51 Thursday night at the Bradley Center.
On a night when sophomore Ashton Gibbs would have missed a shot into the ocean and junior Bradley Wanamaker needed to have handles installed on the ball, McGhee and freshman Dante Taylor finally combined for a strong inside presence for the Panthers (20-6, 9-4). Taylor was 3-for-3 on dunks for six points with a rebound and an assist to go with McGhee's totals.
Nasir Robinson, Jermaine Dixon and Wanamaker, who committed seven turnovers, added 10 points each for Pitt, which ran its winning streak to four games coming off a triple-overtime victory over No. 8 West Virginia. Gibbs, the Panthers' leading scorer, was 0-for-6 from the field with four misses from 3-point range.
Jimmy Butler scored 14 points for the Golden Eagles (16-9, 7-6), who had won five straight games, launching a surprise bid to return to the NCAA tournament in what was widely expected to be a rebuilding season.
Pitt held Lazar Hayward, Marquette's leading scorer, to 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Hayward came into the game averaging 19.4 points and 10.4 rebounds during the Golden Eagles' five-game winning streak, including three double-doubles.
Darius Johnson-Odom added 13 points for Marquette. The Golden Eagles, who entered the game second in the nation in 3-point shooting at 42.3 percent, were held to 5 of 19 from 3-point range.
Pitt, meanwhile, came in as the Big East's best defensive team on the perimeter, holding opponents to 30.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Trailing by six points at halftime, Marquette grabbed momentum to start the second half with a steal and fastbreak dunk by Johnson-Odom, a 3-pointer by Johnson-Odom and a putback by Butler.
The Golden Eagles took a 34-33 lead on a driving layup by Butler, but the Panthers went on a 14-5 run from there, including three dunks by Taylor, as Marquette's interior defense fell apart.
Robinson scored inside, giving the Panthers a 47-39 lead with 9:24 left. The Golden Eagles rallied to cut the lead to five, but Robinson hit a 3-pointer and Wanamaker made a jumper to give the Panthers a 10-point lead with 5:42 left.
Marquette later cut the lead to five points on a three-point play by Hayward with 2:16 left. Wanamaker lost the ball out of bounds with 1:13 left, but Maurice Acker missed a 3-point try that could have cut the lead to two.
David Cubillan missed another 3-point attempt, leaving Marquette coach Buzz Williams hollering for a loose-ball foul. The Golden Eagles allowed a long inbounds pass for a breakaway slam by Dixon, putting the Panthers up 58-51 with 45 seconds left.
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