David Joplin scored 19 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Golden Eagles (4-0) came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half. Oso Ighodaro scored nine of his 14 points after halftime, Kam Jones had 12 points and Tyler Kolek added nine points, nine assists and five rebounds.
“When we got down 12 points though, our huddle was the huddle of a team with real character and these guys looked at each other and told each other what they needed to do and we went out there and attacked and took the lead," Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. "UCLA deserves a lot of credit as well for fighting and taking the lead back and huge shot by Sean Jones to win it for us.”
Sebastian Mack scored 16 of his career-high 25 points in the second half for the Bruins (3-1).
UCLA held a late 69-68 lead after Adem Bona’s spin move and bucket inside with 53 seconds to play. However, Jones answered with his 3-pointer to put Marquette back ahead for good.
The Bruins had two chances to tie it or pull ahead in the final seconds, but Lazar Stefanovic’s 3-pointer rimmed out, as did Mack’s last-ditch layup just before the final buzzer.
UCLA held its largest lead at 45-33 on a baseline runner by Mack with 15:02 left to play. However, Marquette went on a 17-0 run and took a 46-45 lead with 12:11 remaining on a thunderous dunk by Ighodaro.
“I mean, that’s our leader, that’s Osa, so he makes plays like that everybody’s hyped,” Joplin said.
UCLA led by as many as eight in the first half after Stefanovic’s dunk off an inbounds pass with 7:38 left until halftime. Marquette cut it to a two-point game with a baseline drive and layup by Kam Jones at the 1:13 mark of the half, but UCLA found some breathing room with Will McClendon’s 3-pointer from the left wing just before halftime.
The Bruins held a 35-30 lead at the intermission.
“Well we didn’t play very smart,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “They’ve got great players and we got rattled and it took us too long to get our composure back.”
Marquette picked up its first win in five tries against UCLA.
UCLA had held its first three opponents to an average of just 50.7 points per game. It held the Golden Eagles to 12-of-31 shooting from the field in the first half, but saw them hit on 13 of 24 field goals after the break.
Marquette won despite just nine points from Kolek, the reigning Big East Player of the Year and a Preseason AP All-American.
Former Marquette and NBA guard Dwayne Wade sat courtside for the game and received a loud ovation from the crowd during a timeout.
“This whole trip he’s been around the guys, he’s been giving us words of wisdom and talking to us a lot, so it’s always great to have some greats come support us,” Joplin said.
UCLA will try to bounce back when it takes on tournament-host Chaminade in a consolation game Tuesday.
Marquette will have less than 24 hours to recuperate before it takes on No. 1 Kansas in Tuesday’s semifinal round.
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