McNeal leads sizzling Marquette over Oklahoma StateNov 21, 2007 - 4:29 AM MAUI, Hawaii (Ticker) -- Jerel McNeal and Marquette warmed up to their tropical surroundings.
McNeal scored 20 points as the 13th-ranked Golden Eagles cruised to a 91-61 victory over Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.
Dominic James had 18 points and Wesley Matthews added 13 for Marquette (4-0), which advanced to face the winner between Duke and Illinois in Wednesday's championship game.
"Performance commands respect and the performance our players had today should have the respect of everyone watching on TV and respect of each other," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "They learned in this short early season what they are capable of when they fight."
Despite a ranking among the nation's elite, the Golden Eagles had a slow start to the season with three tight wins. Included in that was a 74-63 victory over Division II Chaminade in the opening round of this event on Monday.
McNeal had 22 points in that previous win, but Marquette needed a late 11-2 run to get some distance on the tournament host.
The Golden Eagles were much more impressive on Tuesday, displaying a pinpoint shooting display. McNeal and James combined for three 3-pointers in the first half as the Big East Conference squad raced out to a 46-28 lead at the half.
"Dominic got the energy of our entire team up in the beginning the way he defended and shot the ball," Crean said. "When Dominic is playing that fast there might be someone as good but I don't think there is anyone better."
McNeal kept the good times rolling in the second half, collecting 11 points after the break. The junior guard finished 7-of-14 from the field.
James connected on four 3-pointers for Marquette, which finished 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from the field, including 11-of-17 from the arc.
"We just bounced back on what we didn't do well against Chaminade," Matthews said. "We are a mature team and a confident team and we know what it takes to win. We knew we would have to play tough D, we knew we had to run our offense and attack."
That attacking nature was never more evident than in the open court, as the Golden Eagles finished with a 21-6 advantage in fast-break points.
Dan Fitzgerald and David Cubillan had 10 points apiece for Marquette, which captured its 12th straight win in a November tournament dating back to 2004. It has won titles at the 2004 BCA Classic, 2005 Great Alaska Shootout and 2006 CBE Classic during that span.
Terrel Harris scored 17 points for Oklahoma State (2-2), which went 4-of-23 on 3-pointers and committed 19 turnovers, leading to 30 points for Marquette.
"They have good guards and it showed," Cowboys coach Sean Sutton said. "They executed better at the offensive end and their pressure defense disrupted us. We could never get into any flow in the offensive end."
Freshman James Anderson added 14 points for Oklahoma State, which will face face the loser between Duke and Illinois in the third-place game on Wednesday.
- EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
AT MAUI HI
NCAA BB EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
MARQUETTE (13) 46 45 91
OKLAHOMA ST 28 33 61 FINAL
Nov 20 9:02 PM
- EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
AT MAUI HI
NCAA BB (13) MARQUETTE 46
OKLAHOMA ST 28 HALFTIME
Nov 20 7:57 PM
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