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No. 16 Marquette kicks off Big East schedule vs. St. John's

After an impressive showing during a formidable non-conference slate, No. 16 Marquette kicks off the Big East portion of its schedule Tuesday night when it takes on the St. John's Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena in New York.

Marquette went 10-2 to open the season, falling at Indiana and against No. 2 Kansas in a preseason NIT contest. Three of the Golden Eagles' victories came at the expense of ranked opponents -- No. 12 Kansas State, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 14 Buffalo.

Those contests should have the Golden Eagles well-prepared for the Red Storm, which dropped its conference opener over the weekend, a 76-74 heartbreaker against Seton Hall that ended on a controversial call. It was St. John's first loss of the season but falling to 0-2 in Big East action is a scenario St. John's would like to avoid after playing a non-conference schedule ranked 343rd in the country by

Our conference is as competitive as ever," Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "I think it's shown in the success the league has had in the non-conference. It's a league where you really have to take things one game at a time.

"This is a league where everybody gets everyone else's best shot. That's what makes it so competitive and so fun to play in."

The Conference admitted that officials made an incorrect call when an inadvertant whistle led to Seton Hall getting the ball down one with 3.1 seconds left. Shavar Reynolds' 3-pointer beat the buzzer and handed St. John's its first loss of the season.

"This was a non-correctable judgment call that we have determined was an error in judgment by the official," the conference announced in a statement.

The backcourt battle between Marquette's Markus Howard and St. John's Shamorie Ponds figures to be a highlight of the game.

Howard has 97 points in 72 over his last three games, knocking down 19 of 25 3-point attempts during that stretch. Ponds, meanwhile, is averaging 18.7 points, 6.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds this season and scored 44 against Marquette when the teams faced off last season at Carnesecca Arena.

"He's an elite-level guard," Wojciechowski said. "One of the top guards in the United States. He's a tremendous scorer.

"He puts great pressure on the defense with his ability to beat people off the dribble (and) his ability to shoot from beyond the three-point line."

The Golden Eagles have won eight straight games overall but will be playing just their second true road game of the season -- their first since a 96-73 rout by Indiana back on Nov. 14.

"I like home games a lot, but I kind of like road games a little bit more," MU junior guard Sacar Anim said. "You get battle-tested.

"We haven't had a true road game since Indiana and we all know how that went. So I'm looking to bounce back from that, learn from that first game and go into St. John's and get the win."

The Red Storm and Golden Eagles split the season a year ago, with each team winning on it's own court. Marquette hols a 20-12 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to the 1959-60 season.

Updated December 31, 2018

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