That was more of what head coach Shaka Smart would like to see from his Marquette men’s basketball team.
Balanced rating. Better shot selection. opportunistic defense.
The Golden Eagles looked sharp from the jump ball and drove to an 84-60 win over Georgia Tech in Wednesday’s third-place game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
After MU (4-2) struggled against Mississippi State’s strong defense in the tournament’s opener, things looked much smoother and more efficient against Georgia Tech (3-2).
“I liked the way our boys reacted,” Smart told broadcasters Steve “The Homer” True and Tony Smith on ESPN Milwaukee’s post-game radio show. “That was our theme for the game.
“At the end of the day, four, five, six guys were crying in the locker room because they were so upset about losing Mississippi. The reality is, when you’re in a tournament, you need to turn the page quickly. “
Box Score: Marquette 84, Georgia Tech 60
Kam Jones leads an equal goal for Marquette
The Golden Eagles opened the game on a 14-2 run, with Kam Jones downing two three-pointers.
Georgia Tech was never in the game after that, and Smart was able to empty his bench after Jones nailed his fourth three-pointer to give MU a 76-49 advantage with 4-11 remaining.
Jones finished with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-8 from long range. He only went 2 for 10 with three points against Mississippi State.
Smart has challenged Jones’ tendency to stretch well past the three-point line, but the MU coach has never attempted to quell Jones’ aggressiveness.
“He’s such a good shot,” Smart said. “I was with him early because he missed a couple of shots. It’s like, ‘Hey man, we want you to shoot all the open threes we can get you. That’s a high-end look for us.”
MU point guard Tyler Kolek scored nine points in five minutes in the first half and looked more confident as he sought his shot. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Oso Ighodaro and Sean Jones provide power on both sides for Marquette
Sean Jones (11 points) and Oso Ighodaro (10) also scored in double figures for MU. But both performances went well beyond the rating column.
Ighodaro had 10 rebounds and five blocks. The 6ft 9 center also played a lot with the ball and had some nice passes that didn’t convert into assists.
“Oso was great on the glass,” said Smart. “I told the guys that we want to adopt a defensive identity. A big part of that is grabbing the ball when we let them miss.
“We’re good at letting people miss the first shot. We’re not so good at grabbing the ball as a team. And he did a great job of grabbing the ball on purpose.”
Sean Jones, a 5-10 freshman guard, had two impressive games in Florida after scoring eight points against Mississippi State.
Despite his small stature, Jones isn’t afraid to slash to the brim. On defense, he’s an on-ball pest.
“Tonight was the first time the opposition put the ball down because of Sean Jones,” said Smart. “It won’t be the last time.
“I told him that if you can get them to change their point guard because of your pressure, that’s a big deal.”
The Golden Eagles had 24 turnovers and had a 17-2 advantage in fast break points.
“The lads did a good job when we forced rallies by coming out and scoring goals,” said Smart. “Doubling them with points from sales is a big deal.
“I think there are many areas where we can continue to improve. I thought our guys handled the zone pretty well. But as a group we must adopt a growth mindset. We came here, we wanted to win the whole thing, we ended 1-1.
“We lost our two tight games. The other games we played weren’t that close, so there are a lot of areas where we can continue to improve.”