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Alex Karaban, No. 2 UConn fend off No. 8 Marquette to hand Golden Eagles second straight loss

UConn appears to be in full control of the Big East headed into the conference tournament next week

Alex Karaban and No. 2 UConn fended off No. 8 Marquette to grab yet another major Big East win on Wednesday night.
Alex Karaban and No. 2 UConn fended off No. 8 Marquette to grab yet another major Big East win Wednesday night. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect / Reuters)

It wasn’t as dominant as the last time the two schools met, but Alex Karaban and No. 2 UConn got the job done at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday night.

The Huskies fended off No. 8 Marquette to grab a 74-67 win over the Golden Eagles on Wednesday. The win was remarkably UConn’s first road victory over a ranked opponent since 2014, when it was still in the American Athletic Conference, and marks just its latest step in defending last year’s national championship run.

Marquette came out of the gates strong, and went on a mini 10-0 run after letting UConn score the first five points of the game. That burst, though, just didn’t last. The Huskies made seven 3-pointers in the first half and took an 11-point lead into the break. They held the Golden Eagles to just two field goals over the final five minutes of the opening half, too, while shooting 50% from the field themselves.

While Marquette didn’t go away in the second half, the Golden Eagles just couldn’t close the gap. The teams kept trading buckets through the first stretch of the second half, and Marquette couldn’t get closer than seven points until the last stretch. While Marquette cut it to five points after a David Joplin layup with just 56 seconds left in the game, UConn fended the Eagles off. The Huskies forced a late turnover from Joplin driving through the lane and then hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds to secure the seven-point win.

Kam Jones led Marquette with 18 points, and Oso Ighodaro finished with 16 points and eight rebounds in his return to the court after missing their last game due to an illness. Joplin finished with 10 points and five rebounds.

Marquette was missing star Tyler Kolek, who was ruled out of the Golden Eagles’ final two games of the regular season due to an oblique injury. The reigning Big East player of the year has averaged 15 points and a Division I-high 7.6 assists this season. Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said Tuesday that he’s hopeful that Kolek will be healthy enough to return in time for the Big East tournament next week. Marquette, which has now lost two straight after a 14-point loss at No. 10 Creighton last weekend, will close out its regular season against Xavier on Saturday.

Karaban led UConn with 23 points and five rebounds while shooting 5-of-9 from the 3-point line. Cam Spencer added 17 points and eight rebounds with five 3-pointers of his own, and Tristen Newton finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

UConn had no issue whatsoever with Marquette in their first matchup earlier this year, either. The Huskies, even with Kolek on the floor, cruised to a dominant 28-point win. They’ve lost just three times this season, and only once in 2024. UConn — which already claimed the solo Big East title, its first individual conference title win since 1999 — will end its regular season on Saturday at Providence.