Marquette looks to win three straight games to open the season for the first time since 2011-12 as it hosts No. 11 Illinois on Monday night in Milwaukee.
The Golden Eagles (2-0) are coming off a 75-70 win over New Hampshire on Friday night after beating SIU Edwardsville in their season opener. Darryl Morsell had a career-high 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Justin Lewis tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds to record his second straight double-double.
“I’m proud of Justin. He’s 19 years old, and he’s just made incredible growth since he got here to Marquette,” Golden Eagles head coach Shaka Smart said. “Probably the most impressive thing that he’s done is he’s connected his growth as a person with his growth as a player.”
Led by Lewis, Marquette has hauled in 38 rebounds in each of its first two games while averaging 11 offensive boards.
“We were getting a lot of stops in the first half but then giving up offensive rebounds, so we were just trying to make sure we box out and finish possessions when we play solid defense,” Oso Ighodaro said after grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds against UNH. “Justin’s always solid on the boards, so I just tried to step up tonight.”
The Golden Eagles have also been getting to the charity stripe and making the most of their opportunities, cashing in on 45 of their 61 (73.8 percent) free throw attempts on the young season.
Greg Elliott will miss the meeting with the Illini as he continues to serve his team-issued four-game suspension for an undisclosed policy violation. Elliott is in his fifth year in the program and averaged 6.2 points last season.
Illinois (2-0) also looks to remain undefeated after beating Arkansas State 92-53 on Friday night. Coleman Hawkins paced the Illini with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Jacob Grandison contributed 15 points, and Trent Frazier had 12 in his first game back from a shoulder injury.
Grandison has stepped up in the absence of Kofi Cockburn, who was suspended for the first three games of the season. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward is averaging a team-high 17.5 points and is shooting 62.3 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from behind the arc.
“There’s principles to the game — playing hard for 40 minutes, doing all the little things,” Grandison said following the season opener. “We had guys down, so that was emphasized even more, and that’s what we had to do.”
Illinois has played stout defense through the first two games, holding opponents to an average of 50 points. Opposing teams are shooting just 33.6 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range.
“I thought we were really solid on the defensive end,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said about his team’s performance against Jackson State. “We’ve got to continue to grow in that area, we’ve got to continue to keep making strides there.”
The Illini are 9-5 against Marquette in the all-time series, but have dropped four of the last five meetings between the two teams.
–Field Level Media