MILWAUKEE, WI (WSAU) The Marquette men’s basketball team moved into a first-place tie with Syracuse in the Big East Conference, with 63-to-50 home win over South Florida last night. Junior guard Vander Blue scored a career-high 30 points, as he made 13-of-20 from the floor. He came in as Marquette’s leading scorer with just under 14 points per game.
The Golden Eagles ended the first half with an 11-to-4 run – and they pulled away with a 10-0 run to start the second half. South Florida could get no closer than eight after that – and the Bulls only shot 27-percent for the game. Blue scored 11 points during Marquette’s decisive run. JaVontae Hawkins led South Florida with 14.
Marquette’s second-leading scorer, Davante Gardner, was ejected with 13:46 left for elbowing Zach LeDay in the head as they battled for the ball. Gardner had only four points, the first time in nine games that he was not in double figures. Marquette said the Big East would review the play, and decide if Gardner should be suspended for the Eagles’ next game on Sunday at Number-12 Louisville.
Marquette has won eight of its last nine, and is now 6-and-1 in the conference and 15-and-4 overall. The Golden Eagles returned to the Top-25 yesterday in both the media and the coaches’ polls, at Number-25 in both. South Florida started the season at 9-and-3, but they faltered when Big East play began. The Bulls are now 1-and-7 in the league, and 10-and-10 overall.
Tonight, the Wisconsin men play at Ohio State. E-S-P-N says Marquette and six other schools are negotiating with the Big East to leave the leave the conference after just one more season, instead of the two required in the league’s by-laws. Under the current rules, schools that leave before a 27-month waiting period must pay a 10-million dollar exit fee to the Big East.
Marquette is one of the so-called “Catholic Seven” institutions in the conference – and all seven announced in December that they would leave the Big East to form their own league which highlights basketball. The other six are Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, DePaul, and Saint John’s.
They’re negotiating to leave in the spring of 2014 without a penalty. Meanwhile, Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco says his circuit will have 11 teams when Navy joins in 2015 – and they’re looking to add another school. He also said the conference realignments appear to be settling down, in the wake of the “Catholic Seven’s” move.