Blue drops 30 in win over South Florida

There were no symptoms of a possible trap game in advance of Marquette’s showdown at Louisville on Sunday, as the Golden Eagles tore through South Florida en route to a 63-50 win Monday night.

Vander Blue stole the show, setting a new career-high with 30 points. The point total was the most in a game for Marquette since Jimmy Butler scored 30 points against Cincinnati on March 2, 2011.

“I just got into a really good groove, felt really good out there and didn’t try to force anything,” Blue said. “I took rhythm shots, shots I take every day and luckily the ball was going in the hole for me and we needed that.”

Trent Lockett was the only other Golden Eagle who tallied double digits, with 10 points and eight rebounds. The 30 points was the first time a Marquette player scored at least 30 points in a win since Steve Novak poured in 41 in Marquette’s first-ever Big East game, in a 94-79 win over Connecticut on Jan. 3, 2006.

Perhaps the most interesting development was a Flagrant-2 foul assessed to Davante Gardner for contact above the elbow. The foul occurred with 13:46 remaining in the game.

Rule 4 Section 29 Article 2 of the NCAA rulebook states: “A Flagrant-2 foul is a personal foul that involves contact with an opponent that is not only excessive but also severe or extreme while the ball is live.”

The officials reviewed the contact after the play and ejected Gardner. It is not immediately known what the punishment will be for Gardner for the next game, if any.

The Big East office will review the tape and make a determination first thing Tuesday morning, according to coach Buzz Williams.

“I didn’t see it,” Williams said of the flagrant foul. “After they looked at the monitor, they said he’s got to go and I didn’t know what that meant.

“They said two free throws and the ball, we lose the possession even though it was a jump ball our way and then Scott (Kuykendall) came back and told me that he (Gardner) had to go to the locker room.”

The home win was the 21st in a row for the Golden Eagles, who improved to 15-4 overall and tied Syracuse for first place in the Big East at 6-1.

South Florida tried to slow down the tempo as it normally does, but a field goal drought of 6:54 to start the second half ultimately doomed the Bulls. A 3-pointer by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick eventually ended the drought. By that point, Marquette had already stretched the lead to 13.

South Florida led early after Marquette jumped out to a 10-3 lead. A 3-pointer from Victor Rudd gave the Bulls a 17-15 lead and a layup from JaVontae Hawkins about four minutes later gave them their biggest lead at 22-18.

Marquette then went on a 10-2 run to end the half and extended its lead to 15, the biggest of the night, on a jumper by Blue with 13:59 left to give the Golden Eagles a 40-25 lead.

Marquette has now won its last 14 home Big East games and has the sixth-longest home winning streak in the nation.

“I don’t think that we win 21 home games exclusively because of our players,” Williams said. “I think we won 21 home games because our kids enjoy playing at home, but the reason they enjoy playing at home is the support of the students.”

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