Marquette shot 58 percent from the field in the first half on its way to an 89-62 rout over Mississippi State in the consolation bracket’s second round of the Maui Invitational.
Vander Blue scored a team-high 18 points and Davante Gardner picked up his first double-double of the year with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
The Marquette offense looked lost early, perhaps because of the 9:30 local time tip, turning the ball over on each of its first four possessions. But it didn’t last long, as the Golden Eagles scored the first eight points of the game, and 18 of the first 22.
Marquette added to their lead throughout the half thanks to 15 Mississippi State turnovers, and a 9-3 run, with all nine points coming via Blue, extended the lead to 23, 41-18, late in the half. Marquette led by as many as 25 before halftime.
The closest the Bulldogs got in the second half was a 17-point deficit.
Blue continued to show effectiveness on the perimeter, hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and a handful of other jumpers. Blue’s question mark has always been his perimeter shooting and ability to slow down when getting to the rim. But the last two games, that’s been the best aspect of Blue’s game.
Mississippi State, playing with just eight active players, struggled for the second consecutive day in Maui. Following a 95-49 loss to North Carolina yesterday, the Bulldogs shot just 38.5 percent and had seven assists on the afternoon.
Roquez Johnson paced MSU with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Fred Thomas added 17, including four 3-pointers in the loss. Johnson left the game with about eight minutes to play with an apparent leg injury.
It was a highly efficient day for the Marquette offense, which had struggled yesterday despite scoring 72 points. The Golden Eagles shot 52 percent from the field, made 7-of-11 3-pointers and shot 89 percent from the free throw line. All 11 Marquette scholarship players scored in the win.
Marquette also received some help on the perimeter from former walk-on Jake Thomas, who connected on all three of his 3-point attempts.
Williams continued to go to his bench early and often, and it paid dividends as Gardner scored at will in the lane and Wilson, who was held scoreless against Butler, looked the part of Marquette’s leader defensively. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four blocks in the win.
After failing to get a stop in the last seven minutes of yesterday’s game, Marquette was stout defensively, grabbing 14 steals and blocking eight shots. All 11 scholarship players recorded a steal.
With the win, Marquette will play the winner of Southern California-Texas in the 5th place game tomorrow at 4 p.m. CT.