CHICAGO – David Joplin thinks every shot is going down. That’s the mentality of a true basketball marksman.
Joplin was almost right on Saturday afternoon at Wintrust Arena, with every attempt the Marquette sophomore forward taking seemed like it was destined for the bottom of the net. He knocked down 8 three-pointers and scored a college-high 28 points to lead the Golden Eagles to an 89-69 victory over DePaul.
“Kind of my approach every game is to have one of these type of games,” Joplin said. “I knew I was due for one any time soon. So just staying ready. Doing my job.”
Box score:Marquette 89, DePaul 69
That scorching performance – along with a near-triple double by point guard Tyler Kolek – sparked a red-hot second-half performance from the Golden Eagles (17-5, 9-2 Big East) against the Blue Demons (9-13, 3-8).
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The win, coupled with Xavier’s loss at Creighton, lifted 16th-ranked MU into a tie for first place with the Musketeers in the Big East.
The Golden Eagles scored 56 points and knocked down 11 three-pointers after halftime, drawing fervid cheering from the thousands of MU fans who made up the majority of the crowd in the first sellout for a DePaul game at Wintrust.
Joplin’s previous high at Marquette was 23 points against Central Michigan
Joplin was hot from the start, checking in four minutes into the game and draining his first three-pointer. He had 10 points in the first half, but MU suffered through an almost five-minute scoring drought and went into the break with a 33-32 lead.
“You can tell by his energy,” MU head coach Shaka Smart said. “He’s got a good bounce to him. It’s funny, we stayed at the very same hotel when we came down here and scrimmaged Missouri, and he almost had the exact same game.
“So we got to find a way to replicate that in other places. But in both of those games there’s just an energy to him. Really started on the defensive end with his stance and his talk. And you can see an eagerness in his eyes. Jop is about as offensively gifted and confident as they come.”
The former Brookfield Central star then opened the floodgates for MU in the second half by knocking down back-to-back three-pointers for a 50-38 advantage with 13:28 remaining.
“It’s a domino, like coach always says,” Joplin said. “Everything is a domino. I just want to come out and do my part.”
Olivier-Maxence Prosper knocked down two triples of his own soon after that, including a four-point play, and the Golden Eagles rolled from there.
“I think what his shooting does is it creates more confidence from the rest of his teammates in our offense,” Smart said. “I thought the first half we got a little stagnant, we weren’t sharing the ball as well as we have been lately.
“It might be having a week between games where we needed to get that rhythm back. But I thought our guys did a much better job in the second half, finding each other and creating actions. The guys get excited when Jop makes shots.”
Joplin’s previous college high was 23 points when MU played Central Michigan at the on-campus Al McGuire Center on Nov. 10.
Wintrust Arena felt like Fiserv South with so many Marquette fans
Against DePaul, he had 18 points in the second half on 6-for-8 shooting from long range. The super-confident Joplin couldn’t remember the most triples he’s had in a game, whether it was at Brookfield Central, AAU or otherwise.
“Probably about 8, 10, something like that,” Joplin said. “I’ve been here before.”
This one felt like another home game for the Golden Eagles.
“Just energy,” Joplin said. “I feed off that. The energy throughout the whole game. The crowd definitely brought it, a lot of Marquette fans. So I just try to feed off that, play my game.”
Tyler Kolek wanted one more rebound for a rare triple-double
MU has one of the top offenses in the nation, and orchestrating it has been Kolek. He had one of his best games in his two seasons at the school with 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
“It’s always about taking what the defense gives me,” Kolek said. “I’m a good basketball player. I like to pride myself on that.
“Good passer. And if they’re taking the passes away, then go ahead and score. It leaves open lanes for me. And if I score, if I’m more aggressive, then it just opens everything up for everybody else.”
He was lobbying Smart to keep him in the game, but he exited when Smart called in the walk-ons with 1:23 remaining.
“I kept him in one possession longer than I normally would,” Smart said. “So I guess that was the compromise. I don’t believe in messing around too much at the end of the game when the game is pretty much decided.”
Sean Jones sits out with a wrist injury, then Kam Jones gets hurt
MU needed those big games from Joplin and Kolek because they were short-handed with freshman guard Sean Jones getting scratched before the game with a right wrist injury.
“He’d been playing through it,” Smart said. “Practicing through it. The X-ray was negative. Practiced yesterday really well and then we got out here before the game and his wrist was just a little more swollen.”
Then in the first half, leading scorer Kam Jones fell down hard and exited the game for a few minutes. He played the first four minutes of the second half, but then sat for the rest of the game.
“Kam kind of hurt his hip a little bit in the first half,” Smart said. “He tried to go back in but you could see he just didn’t have the same ability to play as hard.”
Both Joneses are day-to-day. But nothing seems to keep this MU team from rolling along.
“That’s just who we are,” Joplin said. “We have a lot of depth. So when K1 (Jones) went down, we all looked at each other and said we got to pick it up.”