MILWAUKEE (AP) Kam Jones has a hard time explaining the reason behind his recent surge.

It's been even tougher for Big East opponents to figure out how to guard him lately.

Jones celebrated his 22nd birthday by scoring 34 points for a second straight game and No. 7 Marquette trounced slumping Xavier 88-64 on Sunday. Over his last two games, Jones has shot 23 of 32 from the floor and 14 of 20 from beyond the arc.

“I wouldn’t say anything’s flipped,” Jones said. “I’m just being aggressive. That’s my mindset every game. Go out and be aggressive. Don’t overthink.”

Marquette coach Shaka Smart believes he knows what has enabled Jones to step up his performance these last few days.

“He's present,” Smart said. “It sounds really oversimplified, but you can't be good when you're in the past or in the future mentally. When you are here in the moment, and the ball comes to you, and you can shoot the ball like him, or attack and finish around the basket like him, then great things are going to happen. So you might say why isn't he present all the time. Well, that's what we're working on.”

Jones shot 11 of 17 overall and 6 of 10 on 3-point attempts Sunday to match the career-best scoring total he had produced Wednesday in a 105-71 blowout of DePaul. This was his third game with 30-plus points this month, as Jones also scored 31 points in a 91-57 victory at Georgetown on Feb. 3.

He's making a habit of performing well on his birthday. The day he turned 21, Jones scored 22 points in a 90-84 victory over DePaul.

How did he plan to celebrate his latest birthday bonanza?

“Probably just hang out with my teammates,” Jones said. “I just told them, ‘Party in my room.’ Hang out with my teammates and have a good time.”

Marquette (21-6, 12-4 Big East) had reason to be in a festive mood after winning for the 10th time in 11 games.

Tyler Kolek had 11 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Golden Eagles. Oso Ighodaro had 12 points and David Joplin got 10.

Xavier (13-14, 7-9) lost its fourth straight. Trey Green scored 16 points, Quincy Olivari 14, Dailyn Swain 11 and Dayvion McKnight 10 for the Musketeers.

“Today we were overwhelmed, outclassed, outplayed by a much better team,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said.

The first nine minutes of the game featured six ties and four lead changes before Marquette used its defense to take control. The Golden Eagles held Xavier scoreless for a stretch lasting over 5 ½ minutes while turning an 18-16 deficit into a 25-18 lead.

Marquette led 36-26 at the break before breaking the game open by scoring 10 straight points early in the second half. The Golden Eagles eventually led by as many as 32.


Xavier: The Musketeers didn't get enough production from their top players. Desmond Claude, who entered the day with 16.1 points per game to rank second on the team, went scoreless and shot 0 for 8 in 27 minutes. Olivari, who was ranked fifth among all Division I players in 3-point percentage (.443), went 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.

Marquette: On a day when Marquette honored its 1974 Final Four team in a halftime ceremony, the Golden Eagles showed why they’re capable of making a deep NCAA Tournament run. They also continued their home dominance. Marquette has won 25 of its last 26 Big East home games.


Marquette has a chance to move up a spot by leapfrogging No. 4 Arizona, which has split two games since the last poll came out.


Xavier: Hosts DePaul on Wednesday.

Marquette: Hosts Providence on Wednesday.


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