|Xavier's Bluiett may reach milestone against Marquette|
CINCINNATI -- It has not been a smooth season for Trevon Bluiett, who had bouts of inconsistency while dealing with a minor shoulder issue. But, things are looking up for the Xavier senior guard, who this week was named to the midseason Oscar Robertson watch list.
Bluiett is just 13 points shy of becoming eighth-ranked Xavier's fifth 2,000-point scorer heading into Wednesday night's game against Marquette at Xavier's Cintas Center.
After scoring just 23 points in losses at Providence and Villanova combined, Bluiett has averaged 20.6 points in the past three games.
"I'm still approaching 2,000 points," Musketeers coach and former player Chris Mack quipped about Bluiett's impending achievement. "It shows your consistency. You're a target on everybody's scouting report. A lot of guys can score 1,000 points in four years. He's one of the best shooters in the country."
Wednesday's game will feature some serious Big East Conference firepower, with two of the top four active career scoring leaders on the court in Bluiett and Marquette guard Andrew Rowsey, who already has eclipsed 2,000 career points.
The first meeting between the two schools went down to the wire at the Bradley Center, with Xavier winning 91-87 behind 23 points from Bluiett and 15 from J.P. Macura. The Musketeers won despite Rowsey putting on a shooting clinic, with 31 points and six 3-pointers.
Xavier, however, did a solid job defending the Golden Eagles' leading scorer, Markus Howard, who had 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting. He was 1 of 8 from 3-point range, but averages 21.5 points for the season.
Mack said there will be no surprises on either side this time around.
"Everybody's on the same page," Mack said. "Our problems are Marquette's problems. Familiarity becomes a lot greater the second time through. We have to make the game as difficult as possible for their perimeter players."
Xavier (18-3, 6-2 Big East) has won four straight, including a come-from-behind win at No. 19 Seton Hall on Saturday.
One question for the Musketeers is how much of an impact Kerem Kanter will make on Wednesday. The graduate transfer forward has been a pleasant surprise this season, but he played only nine minutes Saturday against Seton Hall and struggled in the pace at which the first meeting with the Golden Eagles was played in December.
"I don't think his ball-screen defense was what it is needed to be," said Mack. "I haven't lost faith in Kerem. I don't want our guys to look over their shoulder. This game, it's going to be very important that our bigs recognize when a ball-screen is coming."
Marquette leads the all-time series 49-23, but Xavier has won seven of the past nine meetings. The Musketeers had won six straight before the Golden Eagles swept the season series last year.
Marquette (13-6, 4-3 Big East) has made 10 or more 3-pointers in 14 of its 19 games. The Golden Eagles will attack the Musketeers with a three-pronged attack, led by Howard, Rowsey, and Sam Hauser, who averages 15.1 points.
"Unless you are in the wars and the battles night after night, you can't fully appreciate the level of competition in this league. It is an honor to be a coach in this league but is damn hard, too," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said.