By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 04, 2009 at 8:51 PM

There have been many occasions in his three-year Marquette career when Jerel McNeal has made the game of basketball look ridiculously easy.

Sunday, though, was simply incredible.

Playing nearly-flawless, McNeal hit nine of 10 attempts from the field -- including all seven of his three-point tries -- to finish with 26 points in the Golden Eagles' 84-50 drubbing of Cincinnati at the Bradley Center.

His 7-for-7 three-point effort Sunday set a school record and his 26 points equaled a season high set earlier on Dec. 6 against Wisconsin. McNeal connected on seven of his first eight shots and finished the first half with 19 points.

"He's already hard to guard but when he gets in a groove he becomes really hard to guard," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

Cincinnati (10-4, 0-1 Big East) had no answer for McNeal - or anybody in a Marquette uniform. Overall, the Golden Eagles shot 54 percent from the field and tied a school-record with 15 three-pointers; a mark set twice before against Penn State (March 27, 1995) and Fairleigh Dickinson (Dec. 6, 1994).

The Golden Eagles actually struggled out of the gate, trailing by four heading into the first media timeout. They came to life after that, finishing the half on a 31-13 tear and went into the break up 14. In the second half, they didn't let up, going on a 25-4 run that put the game out of reach.

During that stretch, Lazar Hayward hit three three-pointers and had 11 of Marquette's first 13 points. He finished with 16. Wesley Matthews added 17 points, going 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. Matthews performance Sunday moved him past Terry Rand on the school's all-time scoring list. He's now in 21st place with 1,318 career points.

Defensively, Marquette held the Bearcats to just 32 percent shooting from the field. Coming into the game, Deonta Vaughn led Cincinnati with 15.2 points a game but was held scoreless Sunday, missing eight shots including three from beyond the arc.

He did manage to contribute, dishing out 10 assists, but Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said that even with Vaughn's normal production, there was little that could have changed the game's outcome.

"We were not going to win today the way they shot the ball, no matter what," Cronin said. "I don't know if anybody in the country was going to beat them."

It didn't take long for McNeal's teammates to realize the senior was in the zone. Accordingly, they stepped up to feed him the ball. As a result, Marquette finished with 19 assists. Ironically enough, it was McNeal's six that led the team.

"After I hit a couple my main focus was to get everyone else involved because the defense was overly aggressive on me," he said.

The Golden Eagles improved to 13-2 overall and are 2-0 in the Big East for the first time since joining the conference in 2005. They travel to Rutgers Wednesday.