Strong Start Pushes Marquette Past Providence

NEW YORK -- Darius Johnson-Odom scored 23 points and Jimmy Butler added 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead Marquette to an 87-66 victory over Providence on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Big East tournament. The 11th-seeded Golden Eagles (19-13) will play seventh-seeded and 20th-ranked West Virginia (20-10) in the second round on Wednesday night. Vincent Council had 21 points and seven assists for the Friars (15-17) and Marshon Brooks, whose 24.8 average led the conference in scoring and is second in the nation, finished with 20 points. They both were 7 of 19 from the field but Council was 6 of 9 on 3s and Brooks was 3 of 7. Marquette scored the first 17 points of the game, making six of its first eight shots from the field including all five 3-point attempts. Providence missed its first 11 shots from the field and it wasn't close misses. Brooks finally scored on a drive 5:31 into the game to make it 17-2. Two free throws by Devonte Gardner gave Marquette its biggest lead of the half, 41-17 with 3:28 to go. The only thing that made the halftime score close to respectable was Council's 9-1 run over the final 1:25, all the points coming on 3s, that made it 46-33. Providence opened the second half on a 10-4 run to get within 50-43 with 16:55 to play. Butler and Johnson-Odom scored around a missed jumper by Brooks and the Golden Eagles staved off any thoughts of a record Big East tournament comeback. Providence was able to get within 11 points twice, the last time at 72-61 on a 3 by Council with 5:23 left. Marquette shot 57.1 percent from the field (16 of 28), including 5 of 9 on 3s. The Friars shot 30.6 percent (11 of 36) and that included going 7 of 17 on 3s led by Council's 4 of 7.