Marquette returns home after a third-place finish in the Maui Invitational, hoping to build on its success when it hosts Eastern Illinois in a non-conference contest Monday. The Golden Eagles topped LSU in the third-place game to move above .500 on the season while the Panthers have won two out of three but start a four-game road trip with this game.
Junior swingman Jajuan Starks leads Western Illinois in both scoring (14.8) and rebounding (6.0) as coach Jay Spoonhour has just one player on his roster 6-9 or taller. Marquette got an all-tourney performance out of senior guard Andrew Rowsey in Maui, as he led all players in scoring with 25.3 per game. He finished the Eagles’ three-game appearance with a career-high 30 points and hit 29-of-30 from the line in the tournament. Sophomore guard Sam Hauser is also playing well, setting his career high with 20 points in the team’s tournament opener, then matching it in the closing win over LSU.
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ABOUT EASTERN ILLINOIS (2-3): Following losses in three of the team’s first four games -- and the one victory coming by just one point -- Spoonhour decided to shake things up a bit against visiting Division III opponent Fontbonne on Friday, starting freshman Mack Smith and junior Aboubacar Diallo for the first time. Though it may not have been solely because of the lineup switch, the Panthers cruised, with seven players scoring in double figures and the team shooting 61.3 percent from the field. Smith, who came into the game with 16 total points this season, had 10 points in the first half, and Diallo contributed seven rebounds, four assists and four blocks in his 22 minutes of action.
ABOUT MARQUETTE (3-2): Aside from the victory, Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski was most pleased with the balanced scoring his team had in the game against LSU. Five players scored in double figures, with Matt Heldt and Sacar Anim, who were both averaging under five points heading into the contest, each contributing 12 points to the offensive effort. Wojciechowski likes what he’s getting from double-figure scorers Rowsey, Markus Howard and Hauser, but he feels if the Golden Eagles are going to be a top team in the Big East, they’ll need more point production outside of the team’s big three.
1. Rowsey went 16-of-16 from the free-throw line against LSU, matching the school record for best performance at the charity stripe, most recently accomplished by current Bradley head coach Brian Wardle in February 1999.
2. Senior G Terrell Lewis is 13 points away from becoming the 37th player in Eastern Illinois history to reach 1,000 career points.
3. One area Wojciechowski would like to see improvement is the glass, where Marquette is getting outboarded by three per game and Hauser leads the team with just 5.2 per contest.
PREDICTION: Marquette 80, Eastern Illinois 64