MILWAUKEE (AP) — Tyler Kolek had 13 points and eight assists as No. 14 Marquette defeated Butler 60-52 on Saturday for its fifth consecutive victory.
Marquette (19-5, 11-2 Big East) began the day tied for first place in the conference standings with No. 16 Xavier, which hosts St. John’s on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles have won 10 of their last 11 games, and their only loss in that stretch was an 80-76 decision at Xavier on Jan. 15. The two teams meet again Feb. 15 at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.
Jayden Taylor scored 19 points and Simas Lukosius added 15 for Butler, which dropped its fifth straight. The Bulldogs (11-13, 3-10) had lost each of their last four games by at least 21 points but were much more competitive Saturday.
Butler had the ball while trailing by six a handful of times in the last three minutes but didn’t score on any of those possessions. Nineteen turnovers and a disastrous final minute of the first half also proved costly.
Olivier-Maxence Propser and Chase Ross scored 10 points each for Marquette.
Marquette owned a 32-20 lead at the break after an Ali Ali flagrant foul helped the Golden Eagles score five straight points in the final four seconds of the first half. Marquette outscored Butler 7-0 in the last 34 seconds of the half, with Kolek getting four points and assisting on a 3-pointer.
Marquette’s Chase Ross blocked a Jalen Thomas layup attempt with 44 seconds left, and Kolek hit a jumper 10 seconds later. After Ben Gold stole the ball from Eric Hunter Jr. on Butler’s next possession, Kolek started driving toward the basket.
Ali fouled Kolek and then made contact with him again, a shove from behind that resulted in a flagrant foul-1. Kolek hit the two ensuing free throws and then threw an inbounds pass to a wide-open Kam Jones, whose corner 3-poiter at the buzzer gave Marquette a 12-point halftime lead.
After trailing by 15 midway through the second half, Butler got the margin down to 53-48 on a Lukosius 3-pointer with 4:54 remaining. But that’s as close as the Bulldogs would get.
Butler: After so many blowout losses, the Bulldogs deserve credit for keeping this one close after even without Chuck Harris, who has 11.7 points per game but was unavailable Saturday after sustaining a concussion in a 70-49 loss to Seton Hall last weekend. The Bulldogs can only wonder what might have been if they’d closed out the first half more effectively and had taken better care of the ball.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles took a 16-3 lead in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game but otherwise didn’t play as crisply as they have throughout this winning streak. They now go on the road for three of their next four games.
Marquette has home victories over Villanova and Butler this week, which could enable the Golden Eagles to move up a spot or two.
Butler: Hosts St. John’s on Tuesday.
Marquette: At No. 24 UConn on Tuesday.