MILWAUKEE -- Vander Blue is stepping up his game as No. 24 Marquette is fighting to stay on top of the Big East standings.
Blue scored 18 points for the Golden Eagles in an 89-78 victory over DePaul on Saturday, the Blue Demons' eighth straight loss.
With the win, Marquette (17-5, 8-2 Big East) moved one-half game ahead of No. 9 Syracuse for the lead in the conference. Syracuse plays at home Sunday against St. Johns.
It was the fourth straight game Blue led Marquette in scoring, including getting 30 points in a 63-50 win over South Florida on Jan. 28.
"I'm letting the game come to me," Blue said. "My teammates have a lot of faith in me. I'm one of the leaders. If we are going to get where we want to go this season, I need to be on my A game every single game."
Blue said the sky is the limit for Marquette, which was not expected to challenge for the Big East title this season.
"From top to bottom, we have everything we need," he said. "This year, the NCAA is going to be wide open. You're seeing all these number one teams lose. Teams don't want to play us in March."
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said his team is improving and has the potential to be very successful as the season moves into March. The only hiccup was a 70-51 loss to Louisville on Feb. 3.
"With each passing game, minus Louisville, we've continued to improve," he said. "We are trending in the right direction, but I know there is an avalanche coming at us in the next 25 days.
"In my time at Marquette, this will be the wildest finish across the country. There's so much volatility right now in college basketball."
Marquette must still play Syracuse, Notre Dame and Georgetown, all Top 25 teams.
DePaul fought back midway through the second half to cut the score 64-59 when Montray Clemens grabbed a rebound and scored with 9:40 remaining. But Marquette's Todd Mayo scored the next four points including a rebound and layin with 8:32 remaining to give Marquette a 68-59 lead.
Worrel Clahar scored eight of DePaul's next 10 points, including two long 3-pointers, to cut Marquette's lead to 77-73 with 4:43 remaining.
Marquette went inside to Gardner, who scored on a short jumper and was fouled. He hit the free throw to give Marquette an 80-73 lead with 4:28 remaining.
DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said he was proud of his players' effort, but not the final score.
"In order to be proud of both, we all have to do a little more," he said. "Everyone has to look in the mirror and do a little more. It's that simple. We have to come back and prepare and fight."
Purnell said DePaul was hurt by Marquette's offensive rebounding. Of the 24 shots the Golden Eagles missed, he said they got the rebound on 12 of them.
"That really hurt us in the second half when we couldn't come up with the rebound," he said
Iowa snaps twostreaks kid against Northwestern
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Devyn Marble broke a lengthy slump with 21 points and Iowa beat Northwestern 71-57 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak.
Josh Oglesby added 10 for the Hawkeyes (15-9, 4-7 Big Ten), who won for just the second time in six games.
Marble, Iowa's second-leading scorer, put together his best scoring night in nearly two months as the Hawkeyes bounced back from a double-overtime loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday. Marble entered play in a staggering spiral, with just 21 baskets on 83 tries in Big Ten play and just two points in his last two games.
Reggie Hearn had 13 to lead Northwestern, which let the Hawkeyes take control with a 10-0 run midway through the second half.
The Wildcats (13-11, 4-7) lost for the third time in four games.
Buffalo, Nuiriankh top NIU
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Javon McCrea scored 16 points and Tony Watson had 14 points to help Buffalo beat Northern Illinois 59-54 on Saturday.
Auraum Nuiriankh recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds - four offensive - for the Bulls (9-15, 4-6 Mid-American Conference), who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Buffalo never trailed in the second half, but had a tough time holding off the Huskies. The Bulls had a 52-41 lead with 4:27 left in the game when Nuiriankh made two free throws.
Northern Illinois cut the deficit to three points, 57-54, with 22 seconds left on Aksel Bolin's layup. But the Huskies (5-17, 3-7) were held scoreless the rest of the way, as Nuiriankh made two more free throws to give Buffalo enough cushion for the victory.
Abdel Nader was the only Northern Illinois player to score in double figures with 13 points. The Huskies have lost two straight.
SIU falls short against Indiana State
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Jake Odum's layup with 19 seconds to play helped Indiana State to a 66-65 win over Southern Illinois on Saturday.
RJ Mahurin had 16 points, going 5 for 7 from 3-point range, to lead the Sycamores (16-8, 9-4 Missouri Valley), who beat MVC-leading No. 16 Creighton earlier in the week.
Odum finished with 13 points, five assists and four steals, and Khristian Smith scored 12 points.
Southern Illinois led 13-1 and Indiana State didn't get its first field goal until Smith scored with 15:52 before halftime. But the Sycamores pulled even at 24.
Jalen Pendleton led all scorers with 17 points for the Salukis (9-15, 2-11). His three-point play with 1:09 remaining gave SIU a 65-64 lead, but he missed a shot at the end that would have been the winner.