Backcourt carries Marquette past Texas TechNov 21, 2006 - 4:44 AM KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Marquette's early-season funk seems to be a thing of the past.
Wesley Matthews scored 20 points to lead the 17th-ranked Golden Eagles to an easy 87-72 victory over Texas Tech in the semifinals of the CBE Classic.
Marquette, which struggled to beat Division II Hillsdale College and Idaho State in its first two games, has rebounded with three consecutive lopsided victories.
The hot-shooting backcourt of Matthews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James were too much for Texas Tech to handle.
The trio of sophomores combined for 55 points and made 21-of-40 shots in leading Marquette into Tuesday night's championship game against Duke.
McNeal scored six quick points as the Golden Eagles jumped out to an 11-2 lead and extended it to 26-12.
Texas Tech got within six points twice as Jarrius Jackson and Darryl Dora sparked a run to pull the Red Raiders within 29-23 with 5:34 left in the half.
Matthews answered by scoring five points in an 8-0 run that gave Marquette a 37-23 cushion with 3:46 left in the first half. The lead never got under double digits the rest of the way.
Trailing, 46-31, at halftime, Texas Tech was within 12 points on three occasions. But with Marquette holding a 63-50 lead, Matthews scored the next nine points for his team to extend the advantage to 72-54.
The Golden Eagles shot 55 percent (34-of-62) in improving to 5-0 for the fourth time under coach Tom Crean.
Benny Valentine scored 17 points and Jackson added 16 for the Red Raiders (4-1) as coach Bob Knight remained six victories short of Dean Smith for the top spot on the all-time wins list.
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