NEW YORK (FOX19) - The Marquette Golden Eagles held on against tenth seeded St. John's Wednesday night to set up a third match up with the Xavier Musketeers.
No. 7 seed Marquette (20-12, 8-10) sprinted out to a 17-point lead midway through the second half against the Red Storm. St. John's, playing in front crowd of its home crowd at Madison Square Garden, mounted a furious comeback that came just short of upsetting the Golden Eagles in a shootout, 101-93.
As for the Musketeers, the immediate focus will be on Marquette's star freshman forward Henry Ellenson. The Big East Freshman of the Year is close to averaging a double-double this season with 16.9 ppg and 9.8 rpg. Projected NBA lottery pick averaged 21 points and seven rebounds in his two games against the Musketeers.
Marquette didn't finish off St. John's until late Wednesday night. MU head coach Steve Wojciechowski told the media after the game that he would pull out the AAU handbook on playing two games in one day.
"Xavier is a team that is capable of winning a national championship," Wojciechowski said. "Chris Mack could be National Coach of the Year. He's done a remarkable job with his team, and they have a number of weapons."
Earlier this week, Mack downplayed the notion of not having a specific scouting report heading into Thursday's game. He said it could be a blessing in disguise due to his players focusing on Xavier in practice, not an opponent.
Xavier (26-4, 14-4) defeated the Golden Eagles in both contests this year, but the games had two opposing flows.
XU's 1-3-1 defense caused fits for Marquette during game one in Milwaukee. Marquette shot just 16 percent from three and Xavier's James Farr scored 16 points and 19 rebounds in a 74-66 Musketeers win.
In game two, Xavier played mostly man-to-man after Chris Mack infamously said his defense was "fried" by playing zone. Marquette shot 52 percent from behind the arc, but Xavier forced 20 turnover en route to a 90-82 win. Trevon Bluiett paced the Musketeers with 23 points.
No. 2 seed Musketeers take the Madison Square Garden floor Thursday evening at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports One.