Kam Jones scored 18 of his 19 points in the second half to help second-seeded Marquette post a 78-61 victory over 15th-seeded Vermont on Friday in an East Region first-round game in the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
Jones made 7 of 9 shots from the floor — including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He scored 18 straight points for his team during a pivotal second-half sequence to propel the Golden Eagles (29-6) to their 10th straight win and notch their first NCAA Tournament victory since their run to the Elite Eight in 2013.
“Coach told me to be myself,” Jones said. “I was frustrated with myself missing free throws, I gave up a cut on defense. He told me to take a deep breath, be myself and just go out there and play loose.”
Marquette shot a robust 51.8 percent from the floor (29 of 56) and 50.0 percent from 3-point range (10 of 20) to advance to Sunday’s second-round clash against seventh-seeded Michigan State. The Spartans recorded a 72-62 victory over 10th-seeded Southern California earlier on Friday.
Oso Ighodaro collected 14 points, five rebounds and five assists and David Joplin added 12 points off the bench to help the Golden Eagles set a single-season school record for victories, topping the 28 secured by the 1970-71 team.
Tyler Kolek, the Big East Player of the Year, scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting while being hampered by both an apparent right thumb injury and early foul trouble.
Marquette committed just five turnovers and benefited from seven steals to snap a 15-game winning streak for the Catamounts (23-11).
“I’ve never been around a more-connected group of guys,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “And we came here to win today, but we’re not done. We’re going to move forward and get ready for the next one.”
Vermont’s Robin Duncan, Dylan Penn and Matt Veretto each scored 11 points. American East Player of the Year Finn Sullivan was limited to just four points after making just 2 of 9 shots from the floor and 0 of 6 from 3-point range.
Vermont trimmed an 11-point deficit to 45-40 early in the second half before Jones countered by scoring 18 straight points for Marquette. Jones sank a trio of 3-pointers, four layups and a free throw during that surge to stake the Golden Eagles to a 63-46 lead with 9:48 remaining.
Jones then set up a three-point play by Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Stevie Mitchell drained a pair of 3-pointers to push Marquette’s lead to 72-50 with 6:37 to play.
The Golden Eagles were not seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Prosper finished with 11 points and six rebounds and Mitchell had 10 points and a team-high seven boards.
–Field Level Media