Marquette started running through "the gauntlet" Saturday, and the Golden Eagles overcame the first challenge with good ball-handling and 23 points from Wesley Matthews.
Matthews was 9-for-16 from the field, including a career-high five 3-pointers on eight attempts, and No. 10 Marquette opened the brutal homestretch to its regular season schedule with a 78-72 victory over Georgetown.
Jerel McNeal added 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds while playing all 40 minutes, and Lazar Hayward had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Golden Eagles, who committed only six turnovers and shot 48 percent from the field.
Marquette (23-4, 12-2) is chasing its first Big East regular season title, and the Golden Eagles will certainly earn it if they get there. Their final four games are against No. 1 Connecticut, No. 7 Louisville, No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 24 Syracuse, prompting guard Dominic James to tell coach Buzz Williams "Here comes the gauntlet" after Tuesday's win over Seton Hall.
Georgetown was a top 10 team last month, but the Hoyas (14-11, 5-9) have lost seven of nine while grappling with their own tough slate of games. On a day in which the school celebrated the 25th anniversary of its only NCAA championship team, the Hoyas failed to get the kind of victory needed if they are to secure a berth in this year's tournament.
Chris Wright scored 17 points, Austin Freeman had 16 and Greg Monroe 13 for the Hoyas, who lost despite shooting 51 percent. DaJuan Summers, Georgetown's leading scorer on the season, had 12 points and four rebounds and fouled out with 2:47 to play.
The Golden Eagles took the lead for good on Matthews' 3-pointer with 7:58 to play, but they couldn't build a lead bigger than six points until the game's final minute. In a vital possession, Marquette worked the shot clock to single digits before McNeal found Jimmy Butler for an open layup to make it 73-67 with 54 seconds to play.
Forced to hurry, the Hoyas couldn't hit their shots and had to foul. Marquette went 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 40 seconds. Wright hit a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Much of the game hardly resembled anything out of the bruising Big East. Playing at a breakneck pace, both teams shot better than 60 percent over the first 12 minutes. Monroe made a play the envy of big men everywhere, stealing the ball near midcourt and then flying down the middle of the lane for a one-handed jam.
McNeal's hook shot gave Marquette a seven-point lead late in the half, but Georgetown rallied with 3-pointers and a power move by Monroe. The half ended with Hayward's 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Golden Eagles a shooting percentage of exactly 60 for the first half and sending the teams to the locker room tied at 44.
Monroe opened the second half with a putback and a dunk to help Georgetown build a five-point lead, but turnovers on three consecutive possessions allowed Marquette to move back in front.
The Hoyas paid tribute to the 1984 title team at halftime, with eight players on hand to receive commemorative bowls. Star center Patrick Ewing delivered a recorded message via the giant scoreboard.
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