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February 15, 2008
Marquette (18-6, 8-5 Big East) went on a 17-0 run early in the second half to take control and cruised to a victory.
Pittsburgh (19-6, 7-5) wasted the return of junior guard Levance Fields, who had missed a dozen games with a broken left foot. Fields played 20 minutes, scoring four points on 1-for-7 shooting. Sam Young scored 18 points to lead Pitt.
McNeal scored a pair of baskets to open the decisive run, giving the Golden Eagles a 41-28 lead and forcing Pitt coach Jamie Dixon to call a timeout.
The break didn't help the Panthers. Marquette scored the next 13 points to take a 54-28 lead on another McNeal field goal with 12:53 to go.
Pittsburgh missed nine of its first 11 shots in the second half and had eight turnovers to one assist in the first nine minutes after halftime.
Marquette outrebounded Pittsburgh 13-4 and outscored the Panthers in the paint 16-2 to open the second half.
The Golden Eagles finished the first half on a 12-4 run, getting a pair of 3-pointers from David Cubillan in the final two minutes, to lead 33-23. Marquette led despite its leading scorer, Lazar Hayward, going scoreless in the half.
The teams took turns holding the lead in the early going. The Golden Eagles missed their first five 3-pointers, but Dan Fitzgerald hit one to give Marquette 19-16 lead with 9:48 left.
Fields returned after injuring his foot Dec. 29 against Dayton. He entered the game with 14 minutes left in the first half and struggled throughout.
He was called for an offensive foul on his first possession upcourt, but scored on his first shot, a breakaway layup with 12:33 left in the first half. He missed his final six shots.
Marquette, seeking additional help down low, decided to play 6-foot-7, 240-pound muscular freshman Trevor Mbakwe. The team had said in November that Mbakwe would miss the season with a left knee injury, but he received medical clearance to play several weeks ago and made his college debut late in the first half.
Mbakwe, who averaged 21.7 points and 12.7 rebounds as a senior at St. Bernard's High School in St. Paul, Minn., played eight scoreless minutes.
A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of the victims of the shooting rampage Thursday at Northern Illinois University.