WASHINGTON – After sweating through a pair of edge-of-your-seat comebacks, Marquette’s first Sweet 16 victory in a decade was as straight and smooth as the 15-foot step-back jumper that Vander Blue nailed at the end of the first half.
Marquette is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003, getting there with an emphatic 71-61 win over Miami on Thursday night. The Golden Eagles were never threatened after taking a double-digit lead in the first half, quite the contrast from their rallies that beat Davidson by one and Butler by two earlier in the tournament.
“It’s fantastic. It feels good not to have to worry about, are you going to lose on a last-second shot or are you going to win on a last-second shot?” said Jamil Wilson, who had 16 points and eight rebounds. “To have a cushion like that, these guys played with tremendous heart, and we did it all game.”
Blue, who made the shot that beat Davidson and led the comeback against Butler, finished with 14 points. He wasn’t Marquette’s leading scorer, but his offensive and defensive energy pushed the Golden Eagles (26-8) to a big lead early over Miami (29-7).
Shane Larkin scored 14 points to lead the No. 2 seed Hurricanes, whose NCAA run to the round of 16 matched the best in school history.