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Marquette off to inconsistent start

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MILWAUKEE (AP) - Picked in the preseason coaches' poll to win the revamped Big East, Marquette heads into its conference home opener searching for consistency following a one-sided loss to Creighton.

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The Golden Eagles (8-6, 0-1) face DePaul (8-6, 0-1) on Saturday. The Blue Demons lost 61-54 at Georgetown on Tuesday.

Marquette reached the regional finals of the NCAA tournament last season, but has struggled offensively following the graduation of point guard Junior Cadougan, who directed 75 victories over the last three seasons, and Vander Blue, who declared early for the NBA draft.

Marquette has victories against Southern University, Grambling State, New Hampshire, Cal State-Fullerton, George Washington, IUPUI, Ball State and Samford, while losing to No. 3 Ohio State, Arizona State, No. 21 San Diego State, No. 4 Wisconsin, New Mexico and Creighton.

In the 67-49 loss at Creighton, the Bluejays played off guards Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson, who were a combined 1 for 10 from the field.

''As far as the last game, they played off of me and Juan, so it kind of hurt us trying to get the ball inside,'' Wilson said. ''So I think we have to try to do different things to make them come and guard us so we can get the ball inside and play inside-out.''

Leading scorer Davante Gardner, who is averaging 12.9 points, had just two field-goal attempts against Creighton. Williams said other teams no doubt noticed the Bluejays' strategy and he expects to see more of the same.

''That was the first game that nobody played Juan,'' Williams said. ''But I would say with the success they had against it, I would say that's probably what the opponents are watching now. So we have to make adjustments in accordance with that.''

In their six losses, the Golden Eagles have not shot better than 45.6 percent. Against Ohio State, Marquette made just 10 of 53 shots (18.9 percent).

''I think collectively all of us have to do a better job of understanding the best shots that we can take,'' Williams said. ''We don't need to take good shots, we need to take great shots. And we need to be in a position to rebound those shots.''

The Golden Eagles also have been hampered by their 12.2 turnovers per game.

''In order to be more efficient, we need to quit turning the ball over at such a high rate,'' Williams said. ''It would help if we got a shot, even if we missed the shot, then at least maybe we would have a chance to get an offensive rebound.''

Williams said his team has played well defensively for the most part and has outrebounded teams 39.4 to 32.9. Overall, they have held opponents to 38.6 percent shooting.

''I don't know how many teams will win at Creighton,'' Williams said. ''Having said that, I'm not trying to justify losing. We held them 17 points below their average. They shot 35 3s and they shot 40 percent from the field. If we can hold teams to 40 percent from the field, then we should have a chance. But, you don't have a chance if you only score 49 points.''

Despite the unexpected struggles, Wilson said it's far too early to write-off the season.

''I think everybody's still confident,'' Wilson said. ''We've had a couple of tough losses this year, but I think overall the team spirit is still pretty good.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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