Marquette flips defensive switch at halftime and gets big game from O-Max Prosper to beat St. John’s

NEW YORK – After the last two performances by the Marquette men’s basketball team, you’d think head coach Shaka Smart is a masterful halftime orator.

But after a dreadful defensive performance against St. John’s in the opening 20 minutes on Tuesday, Smart wasn’t peeling the paint off the locker room walls at the bandbox Carnesecca Arena with a fire-and-brimstone rant about pick-and-roll coverages and shot selection.

“I thought our guys did a great job responding to our staff’s halftime message, which had nothing to do with basketball directly,” Smart said. “It was about how we act, interact and respond.

“Out there on the floor. On the bench. Our commitment to our circle. Our connectivity as a group. And I thought we were below our standards in those things in the first half. And that created a defensive effort that allowed them to shoot 66%.”

That messaging did the trick, with the Golden Eagles storming out of the gate in the second half and rolling to a 96-85 victory.

The game was a lot like MU’s victory over Villanova on Saturday, with the Golden Eagles (12-4, 4-1 Big East) fixing their defensive issues at the break against the Red Storm (11-5, 1-4).

BOX SCORE:Marquette 96, St. John’s 85

St. John’s came out desperate for a victory after three straight Big East losses. Head coach Mike Anderson made some changes, suspending guard Andre Curbelo for discipline issues and moving guard Posh Anderson to the bench.

The Red Storm knocked back the Golden Eagles with their agg