CINCINNATI (AP) -- JaQuon Parker scored a career-high 28 points in a take-it-to-the-hoop attack on Wednesday night, leading Cincinnati to a 72-61 victory over No. 8 Marquette that embellished the Bearcats' NCAA tournament chances.
The Bearcats (21-9, 11-6) have won six of their last eight, including home victories over then-No. 17 Louisville and Marquette (24-6, 13-4). The Golden Eagles had won five straight, including a 95-78 drubbing of the Bearcats in Milwaukee on Feb. 11.
The rematch was a total reversal.
Cincinnati repeatedly drove through Marquette's defense for layups, with Parker leading the way. Dion Dixon added 21 points for the Bearcats. Cincinnati's front line dominated with nine blocks, including seven by Justin Jackson.
Darius Johnson-Odom scored 18 points, and Jae Crowder added 17 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette, which never got the lead under double digits in the second half.
Cincinnati improved to 5-3 against ranked teams this season. It was Cincinnati's most lopsided win over a top 10 opponent since it beat No. 4 Louisville 101-80 on Feb. 22, 2003.
Marquette sat three starters, including Johnson-Odom, for the first half of a 61-60 win at West Virginia on Saturday, punishment for violating unspecified team rules. All were back against Cincinnati.
The Bearcats honored seniors Dixon and Yancy Gates before the final home game. Gates set a tone early, getting five rebounds before picking up his second foul on a charge at the 16:16 mark.
Even without Gates, Cincinnati dominated the boards -- it had a 10-3 advantage early -- while pulling out to a 19-11 lead. Dixon had a pull-up jumper, a layup and a finger-roll basket during a 10-0 run.
Marquette made its first three shots -- all from behind the arc -- but missed nine of its next 10, including two air balls. Cincinnati blocked seven shots in the first half, six by Jackson.
Parker took advantage of Marquette's perimeter defense, driving past step-slow defenders for layups as Cincinnati pulled away in the closing minutes of the first half. His 3 from the left corner with 1 second left pushed the lead to 42-26 and left Parker with 16 points.
The offensive surge was notable. The Bearcats were coming off their worst scoring game of the season, a 46-45 loss at South Florida on Sunday.
During its winning streak, Marquette routinely pulled itself out of deep first-half deficits. The Golden Eagles never made a run after halftime, with Parker and the Bearcats refusing to let up.
Parker had a fast-break layup and 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 52-33 in the opening minutes of the second half. Marquette went to half-court pressure to try to force turnovers, but never rattled the Bearcats, who finished with only seven turnovers.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Can't Find Something?
1908 Grand Avenue, Wausau, WI 54403
News Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-842-9293