Marquette’s rise may have reached its limit.
The UConn No. 21 utterly destroyed the Golden Eagles 87-72 Tuesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the No.10 Marquette, which came amid an impressive run and climbed the national rankings.
The Huskies never trailed in the first half Tuesday night and at one point built a 20-point lead. They also closed the opening period on a wild half-court shot from Nahiem Alleyne, to take a 17-point lead into the break after shooting 55% from the field as a team.
The Huskies continued into the second half as well, completely outplaying Marquette before pushing their lead to 25 points midway through the period. From there, UConn simply held on for the 15-point victory.
Tristen Newton led UConn with a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Jordan Hawkins added 20 points after shooting 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Adama Sanogo added 18 points and seven rebounds, and Alleyne finished with 13 points off the bench. UConn shot 50% from the field and better than 52% from the 3-point line, and edged Marquette by 25.
Tyler Kolek led Marquette with 17 points, and Stevie Mitchell and Ben Gold finished with 12. They were the only three to double the Golden Eagles.
Marquette started the season unranked and with few real expectations in the Grand Est. Yet after a wild blowout 26-point win over then-No. 6 Baylor in November, the Golden Eagles quickly entered the rankings and rose to No. 1 in the Big East standings.
Along with a pair of tight conference losses and a three-point loss to Wisconsin, Marquette entered Tuesday night having won 13 of his last 16 games. The Golden Eagles moved up to 10th in the latest AP poll this week as well, in what was their highest ranking in about four years.
In theory, they should have at least rivaled UConn. The Huskies, who were ranked No. 2 earlier this season, have fallen hard in recent weeks after losing to Xavier twice, Providence and even Marquette last month in Milwaukee. That previous game came midway through a streak in which UConn lost six of eight games.
The Huskies had to rally late Saturday to beat lowly Georgetown, which also has just one conference win under its belt. They face number 23 Creighton next Saturday in the midst of what should be a big push in the latter part of their schedule.
For Marquette, however, it’s a different story. If Tuesday’s stumble is nothing more than a reality check for Shaka Smart’s band, there’s no reason they can’t come together to claim a Big East title for the first time. in the history of the program. Otherwise, things could go wrong, and fast.
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