|Marquette, St. John's look to build off hard-fought wins|
Marquette and St. John's will face each other Saturday afternoon in New York, with both Big East teams hoping to hit their stride as the season moves toward its second half.
The Golden Eagles (7-6 overall, 3-4 Big East) and Red Storm (7-6, 2-5) both are coming off victories at home on Tuesday that saw them fight off runs made by the opposition.
Marquette built a 16-point lead in the first half over Providence on Tuesday, only to see the Friars rally to within one point with under eight minutes remaining in the game.
But Golden Eagles held firm to secure a 79-69 victory, which head coach Steve Wojciechowski said was a sign in itself that his team is maturing as the season progresses.
"Our guys got off of the mat and we responded," Wojciechowski said. "Just a week ago, we didn't, so that's progress. We need to keep building off of those lessons."
St. John's is coming off Tuesday's 69-57 win over Butler, a game that saw the Red Storm take a 12-point lead in the second half before the Bulldogs rallied within four points with over nine minutes remaining.
The Red Storm quickly responded and built their lead back to double digits less than five minutes later en route to victory.
The biggest takeaway for St. John's head coach Mike Anderson was the improvement of his team's defense, something that has been a problem this season.
St. John's is allowing 78.9 points per game while scoring 79.6, but hope the defensive effort against Butler will be a sign of things to come.
"I think our identity is going to be our defense," Anderson said. "I think if our defense is consistent each and every night, we are going to be in ballgames. Now you add on the offense and we start making shots, then obviously that takes us to a different level. That's what has been missing. We've been scoring, but we haven't been stopping anybody. Let's see if we can get that balance."
Marquette is led in scoring by Dawson Garcia (13.5 points per game) and Koby McEwen (13.1), while St. John's is paced by Julian Champagnie (20.7).
--Field Level Media