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Ighodaro leads No. 4 Marquette to 73-59 rout of top-ranked Kansas in testy Maui semifinal

Kansas Marquette Basketball
Posted at 9:36 AM, Nov 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-22 10:36:36-05

HONOLULU (AP) — Steaming mad about some Kansas trash talk, Marquette coach Shaka Smart stormed up the sideline looking ready for a fight.

His calm and collected players, however, were in complete control all night against the No. 1 team in the country.

Oso Ighodaro had 21 points and nine rebounds as No. 4 Marquette routed the top-ranked Jayhawks 73-59 on Tuesday in the Maui Invitational semifinals.

With former Marquette great Dwyane Wade sitting in the front row, the early-season clash of national title contenders ended up being one-sided. The Golden Eagles (5-0) led for all but 22 seconds and were up by 17 with about seven minutes to play.

Marquette will take on No. 2 Purdue for the tournament championship Wednesday.

Tempers flared late in the first half after Kansas swingman Kevin McCullar Jr. drained a 3-pointer in front of Marquette's bench. McCullar jawed with Smart as he headed back downcourt, and members of both teams had to be pulled away from the heated dustup that followed.

Both teams were given technical fouls. An angry Smart and Jayhawks coach Bill Self appeared to exchange unpleasantries along the sideline at the end of the ensuing discussion with officials.

“At the end of the day it had very little to do with the game,” Smart said. “Our guys did a really good job of just basically ignoring what happened and just continuing to play, and that shows their maturity and their poise.”

Smart said he and McCullar are plenty familiar with each other going back to when Smart was coaching Texas and McCullar played for Texas Tech.

“He’s always kind of enjoyed having dialogue with me — he probably does that with all coaches — but that probably started the dustup and then their bench got involved and our bench got involved,” Smart said.

Ighodaro shot 9 of 15 from the field and scored 14 points in the second half. Chase Ross added 12 points and six rebounds off the bench, and Kam Jones scored 10.

“We felt like as a team, that this was a game that we had some advantages in, but we felt like it was really, really important to press those advantages by being connected, helping each other, having a level of resolve even when things don’t go our way,” Smart said. “I thought our guys started the game with really, really good energy. Both teams were scoring but then after about the first six to eight minutes I thought we settled in defensively and that was the difference in the game.”

McCullar had 24 points and eight rebounds to pace the Jayhawks (4-1). Preseason All-America center Hunter Dickinson was held to 13 points and eight boards. He entered averaging 24.3 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Marquette outscored Kansas 46-26 in the paint and converted 18 forced turnovers into 20 points. Tyler Kolek made five steals and Stevie Mitchell had four to lead an impressive defensive performance by the Golden Eagles, the defending Big East Tournament and regular-season champions.

“I thought Marquette played great. I thought they were so quick," Self said. "We got behind and played catchup the whole game, but I actually thought we played better than the score. We missed a lot of free throws and botched as many opportunities as we did, and a lot of times botched opportunities lead to points on the other end. But they were definitely the much better team tonight.”

Marquette, which led 38-28 at halftime, improved to 3-11 against top-ranked teams with its first victory since beating Villanova 74-72 at home in January 2017.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas has no shortage of elite talent. But with several transfers — including Dickinson, who previously played at Michigan — it will take time for Self and his staff to mesh their many pieces.

Marquette rolled to its biggest statement win in two-plus years under Smart, who on Monday pointed out the program hasn’t brought in many transfers and has instead developed its own players over the years.

UP NEXT

Kansas will look to rebound against No. 7 Tennessee in the third-place game Wednesday.