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Legends Classic recap: Marquette holds on, knocks off #22 LSU in Brooklyn

The Legends Classic began with a thrilling game between Marquette and LSU. Both team’s freshman stars flourished, but the Golden Eagles escaped with the 81-80 victory. MU advances to the championship game on Tuesday.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

1) Henry Ellenson vs Ben Simmons was fun to watch

The two star freshmen went back and forth at each other all night long at the Barclays Center. Simmons said it was just another game for him coming in, but it turned into a thrilling matchup to watch. The LSU star had 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists along with two steals. Ellenson was in foul trouble so he missed a good portion of the first half, but was stellar in the second. Marquette’s talented big man finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"A very difficult matchup, he is a very unique player, a talented player," Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said about Simmons. "Overall, I think our guys did a good job against him."

Ellenson would foul out with 1:56 to play, but his teammates were still able to pull out the win despite his absence.

"There was a lot of spotlight on us two, but it is a team game in the end," Ellenson said about the matchup with Simmons. "Simmons is a good player, a powerful driver."

Simmons and LSU had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Jalyn Patterson missed the shot as time expired after Simmons passed up the opportunity. After the game, Simmons talked about the trust he had in his teammates to make a play. The shot just did not fall for the Tigers.

2) Marquette’s defense is in need of improvement

The Golden Eagles held the LSU offense to just 37 percent shooting from the field, but the Tigers were still almost able to take a lead and almost pull the game out. Marquette allowed LSU to score 34 points in the paint and 19 points off of turnovers. The Tigers were able to get back into the game with 15 second chance points as well.

Marquette also lost the turnover battle. The Golden Eagles committed 22 turnovers to just 12 for the Tigers. If Marquette’s defense improves, they could develop into a scary team. This is an important win for the Golden Eagles on the young season, but they need to tighten the screws defensively.

Last season, the Golden Eagles were a part of many close games and Luke Fischer knows all about that. After the game, he told the media that it was great to finally pull out one of these tight contests. It was vital and Marquette picks up a quality win in their biggest game of the season to this point.

3) Plenty of players stepped up for the Golden Eagles

Marquette outscored LSU 32-15 in bench points and received plenty of help from the role players. Three players, other than Ellenson, finished in double figures led by the 19 points and eight rebounds from Fischer. Duane Wilson had 16 points and hit vital three pointers for the Golden Eagles throughout the game. Down the stretch, with Ellenson out, Jajuan Johnson also made some important plays for Marquette. Johnson finished with 16 points and made the two free throws that turned out to be the difference in the game.

"We have more than five guys who capable of being starters," Wojciechowski said, "I love those guys, Luke J.J. and Duane. They all stepped up. Duane and J.J. gave us a great lift off the bench.

Marquette let LSU back into this one, but were able to pull it out at the end. The Golden Eagles will play in the championship game on Tuesday night against the winner of the Arizona State- North Carolina State.