76 - 61 Final
  for this game

McNeal, Marquette remains perfect in Big East

Feb 4, 2009 - 6:55 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Although Marquette had a slip-up, Jerel McNeal enjoyed his latest trip home.

McNeal scored 26 points as eighth-ranked Marquette remained the lone unbeaten team in the Big East, posting a 76-61 victory on Tuesday.

Wesley Matthews had 20 points and Dominic James added 15 for the Golden Eagles (20-2, 9-0 Big East), who captured their 12th straight win.

"Just keeping it going," James told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Ugly win ... we'll take them all. When it's all said and done, every win counts - and every win counts the same."

The latest victory for Marquette figured to be an easy one, especially after the Chicago native McNeal hit his first five shots - four 3-pointers - to carry his club to a 27-9 lead eight minutes in.

"He was headed for a 170-point game," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright told the Journal Sentinel about McNeal. "He's a very opportunistic player, and he's really playing with confidence."

That cushion would be 31-14 with 9:11 left before intermission but the Blue Demons put together a 19-6 run behind Will Walker.

The junior Walker connected on three 3-pointers during the spurt before converting a layup to bring DePaul within 37-33 with 2:58 remaining.

Surprisingly, Marquette coach Buzz Williams chose not to call a timeout during the opposition's surge. He decided to let his veteran team figure it out for itself.

"They knew the deal. They know what I would have said," Williams told the newspaper. "I didn't say anything at halftime. No profanity in the locker room; I'm trying to get better at that. They need to figure out how to get themselves out of it. I thought it was a great opportunity for us to learn, and they did learn."

Marquette backed up its coach's faith in it, as McNeal blocked Walker's next attempt from the arc, leading to a fast-break dunk for James and a 39-33 advantage with 2:13 before the break.

The Golden Eagles went on to hold a 42-37 edge at intermission despite four 3-pointers in the first half by Walker, who went on to record a career-high 30 points. However, DePaul (8-15, 0-10) was shorthanded without leading scorer Dar Tucker, who was sidelined due to a twisted left ankle.

Marquette showed no lingering effects of DePaul's comeback in the opening half, as Matthews opened the final 20 minutes with a dunk and the team later extended the lead to 54-43 with 15:13 left behind a 10-2 run.

The Blue Demons would get no closer than eight points thereafter as they ended up absorbing their 10th straight loss.

McNeal finished 8-of-16 from the field with five 3-pointers. He also handed out six assists, grabbed five steals and blocked four shots.

The complete effort is just the latest in a stellar stretch for the senior guard, who is averaging 25.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals over his last six games.

Mac Koshwal had 10 points and nine rebounds for DePaul, which shot 42 percent (25-of-60) and committed 16 turnovers.