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- American basketball player-coach
Normally Shaka Smart's halftime speeches to the Marquette men's basketball team are done behind closed doors.
But with his team participating in an "all-access" TV broadcast by FS1, the words of the Golden Eagles' head coach were shown on video.
"We got to be more violent," Smart said.
Those pleas worked as MU shook off a listless first half to score an 87-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum.
Box score: Marquette 87, DePaul 76
"I think just being more decisive," Smart said. "When we talk about being violent – and that's a big foundation for us on both ends of the floor and it's not to be confused with any violence off the floor – it's just aggressiveness, assertiveness, a little bit of nastiness.
"Basketball is a contact sport. Basketball is a sport where the more aggressive player has a huge advantage in more ways than one. And I thought we showed that more in the second half than we did in the first half."
The Golden Eagles (11-6, 3-3 Big East) have won three straight games heading into a big matchup on Saturday with Seton Hall, which is ranked 18th in the Ferris Mowers coaches poll and No. 20 by The Associated Press.
MU's offense has been clicking and they notched 27 assists on their 34 field goals against the Blue Demons (9-6, 0-5).
The Golden Eagles' defense is what frustrated Smart in the first half. DePaul shot 6 for 11 on three-pointers in the first half and pulled down 12 offensive rebounds to score 13 second-chance points.
The Blue Demons scored the first two buckets of the second half to take the lead at 47-44. Grad transfer guard Darryl Morsell grabbed the lead back for MU for good at 51-50 with a three-pointer.
The Golden Eagles locked in on defense after that and took their largest lead at 87-68 with 3:48 remaining when freshman guard Stevie Mitchell sprinted across the court to knock away a pass and feed Justin Lewis for a breakaway dunk.
MU is averaging 89 points during its three-game winning streak.
"I don't think much has changed," MU guard Greg Elliott said. "We just started focusing on the little stuff. We knew the games that we didn't win it was just because of the little things that we didn't do that was in our control.
"And these last three games we did everything we could to make sure we took care of the little stuff."
Hitting the open man is one of those little things that has improved for MU. The ball was humming around from the start on offense.
"The goal is for Marquette to score," Smart said. "I know that sounds really simple and basic. But sometimes other things can creep in there, on the offensive end, and it makes you less effective. The ball doesn't move as much. Bodies don't move as well. You're a step slower.
"I just think that coming out of the Creighton game, which was a heart-breaking loss, there was an understanding on the part of all of our players that, hey, we've got to come together and find a way to score more points. We've got to come together and be two to three possessions better on the defensive end. And I think when you see the assist numbers that we have, there's a real unselfishness that guys are playing with."
Elliott was a beneficiary of that ball movement, coming off the bench to score a college-high 25 points. He sank 4 of 6 three-pointers.
"I just want to come in and be a spark," Elliott said. "Do whatever I can to help my team get closer to getting the victory.
"I feel like me coming in and being aggressive, looking for my shot or knocking down a open shot, was needed today. And that's what I did today."
Morsell (16 points), Lewis (11), Oso Ighodaro (11) and Kuath (10) also scored in double figures for MU. The Golden Eagles shot 34 for 61 (55.7%).
Elliott hit his fifth three-pointer for an 83-69 lead with 4:50 remaining. That gave him 25 points to surpass his previous high of 22 set in a loss to UCLA on Dec. 11.
MU guard Tyler Kolek notched his 10th assist on that play, which set a college high for the guard, who played last season at George Mason.
"It's super contagious," Elliott said of the passing from Big East's assists leader. "But one thing I'm going to say is before the game today, I told Tyler he was going to get 10 assists.
"I was just happy to see he finally got 10 assists. Because one game he had nine and we was up pretty big and coach took him out. But he helps us a lot and we feed off his energy. When the ball is popping, that's what makes us a better team because anybody on our team is a weapon at any time."
Especially when playing with "violence."
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marquette 87, DePaul 76: Golden Eagles get third straight victory