Milwaukee • Davante Gardner scored a career-high 26 points and No. 22 Marquette beat No. 12 Syracuse 74-71 on Monday night in a game that further tightened things at the top of the Big East.
Gardner played only 11 minutes in Marquette’s 60-56 loss at Villanova on Saturday, with coach Buzz Williams saying he benched the junior center because “he played really bad.”
Gardner was the exact opposite against the Orange, making all seven of his shots and converting 12 of 13 free throws in 33 minutes to pull Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) into second place, one-half game behind No. 7 Georgetown.
C.J. Fair had 20 points for Syracuse (22-6, 10-5), which has lost three of five and dropped into a tie for fourth with No. 21 Notre Dame.
Reserve guard Todd Mayo hit two 3-pointers during a decisive 15-2 Marquette run in the second half, and Gardner gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good at 56-55 on an 8-foot jumper in the lane with 5:05 left.
Michael Carter-Williams hit a 3-pointer with 1 second left to pull the Orange within 73-71, but Vander Blue hit a free throw with two-tenths of a second to go. Syracuse didn’t get a shot off and the game ended.