Marquette’s 3-point barrage downs No. 9 Irish

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Marquette coach Buzz Williams says his undersized team spends 70 percent of each practice on defense and rebounding. He may be able to increase that percentage, since the Golden Eagles look just fine on offense.

Dwight Buycks scored a career-high 21 points and Marquette used an impressive long-distance shooting performance to upset No. 9 Notre Dame 79-57 on Monday.

“If it was a good shot, we took the good shot and I think everybody was making shots,” Buycks said.

Buycks went 5 for 5 from 3-point range, part of a 12-for-17 night from behind the arc for Marquette (12-5, 3-1 Big East). The Golden Eagles shot 53 percent (26 for 49) overall.

“Offensively, I don’t think we’ve had any issues, any questions,” Williams said. “Sometimes we’re going to shoot it great, sometimes we’re just going to shoot it OK.”

Notre Dame (14-3, 3-2) gained five spots in Monday’s poll to reach its highest ranking since January 2009, but it’ll be tough for the Fighting Irish to move higher despite getting 15 points from Eric Atkins. Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin each finished with 10.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to play horse against them,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “You’re glad a night like this counts as one loss. It counts as one.”

Jae Crowder had 18 points, Jimmy Butler scored 15 and Darius Johnson-Odom 13 for the Golden Eagles, which came in shooting 35 percent from 3-point range.

Butler said Marquette practices shooting every day after practice, not quite games of horse but competitions that include shot after shot after shot against each other. Butler said sometimes the sessions last up to 90 minutes following two-hour practices.

“After practice, everybody stays after and puts up shots,” he said. “Guys, after they’re done making open shots, they’ll compete with each other, who can make this many amount of shots first.”

Big East player of the week Ben Hansbrough had nine points and the Fighting Irish shot 39.6 percent overall, including 3 of 16 from 3-point range. But he wasn’t sure it would’ve mattered if they shot better.

“I’m not sure who would have beat them here,” Hansbrough said. “They’re going to beat a lot of people if they shoot 70 percent (from 3-point range).”

Last year, Hansbrough managed just four points in Milwaukee, but Carleton Scott hit a 3 that sent it to overtime and Notre Dame won 63-60 in its last conference road victory.

With the 6-foot-8 Scott out with a hamstring injury that will likely keep him sidelined until February, the Irish struggled knocking down shots after shooting 51 percent in a 76-61 win over St. John’s on Saturday.

Hansbrough had a career-best 26 points against the Red Storm, but finished 3 of 9 from the field against Marquette. It snapped a string of 10 straight games with at least 10 points.

“I told him, ’Look, man, get some rest,”’ Brey said. “I’ve seen that happen before when we’ve had a player of the week. It’s like, ’Yeah! Oh god, we play tonight.’ Anyway, give credit to Marquette. We’ve got to play them again.”

Marquette is in the middle of a stretch of seven ranked opponents in eight games, and entered Monday night 0-4 against Top 25 teams this season.

In the final three weeks of this stretch, the Golden Eagles will face No. 18 Louisville, Notre Dame again, No. 10 Connecticut, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 7 Villanova.

The schedule certainly doesn’t seem quite as daunting after Marquette’s 3-point effort and much improved defense against Notre Dame following an uncharacteristic 89-81 loss at Pittsburgh where the Panthers shot 60 percent.

“Your pride’s hurt when a team shoots 60 percent,” Williams said.

Crowder knocked down his fourth 3-pointer early in the second half, and Marquette extended the lead to double digits at 41-31 for the first time on a free throw by Vander Blue.

Darius Johnson-Odom’s 3 put the Golden Eagles up 49-36 with 12:48 left, Buycks drained another and Johnson-Odom finished a fast break with an emphatic slam that made it 64-43 with 7:39 to play.

Tyrone Nash hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to 33-29, but the Irish wouldn’t get any closer because of the Eagles’ 3-point performance, their best effort since going 12 of 15 in a 2001 win over Tulane.

“I think that’s an aberration more than anything else,” Williams said. “For a team that can’t shoot to shoot 71 percent from 3, that helps.”

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