Jan. 10, 2009

MILWAUKEE (AP)--Jerel McNeal scored 26 points to lead No. 18 Marquette past No. 25 West Virginia 75-53 Saturday.

Dominic James added 17 points and Wesley Matthews scored all 13 of his points in the second half for the Golden Eagles (15-2, 4-0 Big East), who recovered from a rough shooting start against a physical Mountaineers team to take control in the second half.

Da'Sean Butler led West Virginia (11-4, 1-2) with 16 points, but got into foul trouble just after halftime and was held scoreless in the second half.

Marquette took control with a 16-5 run down the stretch--and most of the Golden Eagles' points came at the free throw line, stoking the ire of West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.

With Marquette leading by 2, McNeal began the run with a 3-pointer at the 8:29 mark, earning a slap on the backside from coach Buzz Williams as he got back on defense.

West Virginia's Wellington Smith made a jumper, but the Golden Eagles went on to score the next six points on free throws while playing some physical defense of their own.

Matthews picked up his fourth foul, and was replaced by Dwight Burke--who immediately blocked a shot by Smith into the front row. Marquette then forced a bad shot by Will Thomas as the shot clock expired, the beginning of a two-minute scoreless skid by the Mountaineers.

McNeal hit another 3-pointer with 5:26 left, putting Marquette up 60-48. Huggins called a timeout, then was called for a technical foul for arguing with an official.

McNeal hit one of two free throws, and West Virginia's Alex Rudoff hit a 3-pointer to cut the Golden Eagles' lead to 10. But Lazar Hayward answered with a 3-pointer, putting Marquette ahead 64-51 with 3:22 left.

After halftime, West Virginia took 35-29 lead on a dunk and a layup by Cam Thoroughman. But Marquette came back to take the lead with an 11-0 run that included nine straight points by Matthews, who was shut out in the first half after going 10-for-10 from the field in Marquette's victory at Rutgers on Wednesday.

Butler picked up his fourth foul at the 16:37 mark, sending him to the bench. Key reserve John Flowers also picked up his fourth foul with 11:11 remaining, but West Virginia managed to keep the game close thanks in large part to physical inside play on both ends of the court.

In the first half, the Golden Eagles shot only 33.3 percent--including 1-for-10 from 3-point range. Marquette recovered to shoot 52.2 percent in the second half, making 4 of 7 shots from beyond the arc.