Marquette begins home stretch tonight at Rutgers

The Golden Eagles have succeeded at home, and with the Big East Tournament just one week away, they’ll now hit the road to close out their regular season when they travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers (13-14, 4-12).

A Saturday win over No. 21 Notre Dame pushed Marquette’s win streak at home to 25 games, the second longest current streak in the country. The 72-64 victory pushed the Golden Eagles to a 16-0 record at home, and they finish their Big East slate at the Bradley Center unblemished for the second straight year.

They will take that 25-game win streak into the 2013-’14 season, but there’s still plenty of action to take care of before then.

Tonight’s matchup marks Marquette’s 10th true road tilt of the season. The Golden Eagles are 3-6 to date, including a 3-3 record in conference play. They have one win–a Jan. 12 win at Pittsburgh–against teams above .500, and while neither Rutgers nor St. John’s–Saturday’s opponent–have winning records in Big East play, Marquette still has question marks away from Milwaukee.

The Scarlet Knights are 3-4 in Big East play at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, with wins over Pittsburgh, South Florida and Seton Hall. Last year they went 4-5 in conference, knocking off No. 8 Connecticut, and No. 10 Florida in December.

The 8,000-seat RAC is certainly a venue where opponents can suffer letdowns, yet Rutgers will have a tougher time doing so without the services of leading scorer, guard Eli Carter.

The 6-foot-2 sophomore suffered a fractured fibula in his right leg in a Feb. 16 loss at DePaul. He had averaged 14.9 points and was the team’s second-leading 3-point shooter. Not including the DePaul loss, Rutgers has averaged just 62 points per game in three losses.

His 39 3-pointers will be missed, but the Scarlet Knights remain one of the most efficient outside shooting teams in the Big East. Their 131 3-pointers are third fewest, but they are hitting at a 36 percent clip, third best in conference play.

That number is, in large part, thanks to Myles Mack, who has made 51-of-114 shots from beyond the arc. The 5-foot-9 sophomore has taken on more of a scoring load post-Carter injury and both his assist rate and turnover rate are impressive for his point guard spot.

Kansas State transfer Wally Judge and senior Dane Miller have locked down the interior, with Jerome Segears, Kadeem Jack and Mike Poole rounding out the core of the rotation.

With no chance of postseason play and tonight being Senior Night, Rutgers has plenty to play for tonight in the role of spoiler. Head coach Mike Rice is also on the hot seat after a disappointment of a season, so this is hardly just a third-place team against a 12th-ranked bottom feeder.

On the flip side, Marquette needs a win to remain in contention for a Big East title and, after Louisville’s win over Cincinnati last night, a potential No. 2 seed.

As has been the case the last month, Marquette will continue to work inside-out, getting Chris Otule and Davante Gardner going before freeing up the offense for Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue and Trent Lockett to get into the paint.

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