No. 1/1 Duke 82, Marquette 77.

Duke is still evil, ladies and gents, but its destruction will apparently have to wait for another day.  Despite a valiant effort, Marquette's decision to try to dance run with the Devils proved fatal, and YOUR Golden Eagles dropped an 82-77 decision to the defending National Champions in the CBE Classic in Kansas City.

This particular contest was decided in the first ten minutes of the game, as Duke sprinted out to an early 23-9 lead and MU had to spend its energy catching up.  Marquette put a scare into the Devils in the second half, briefly tying the game at 53-53 on a jumper-and-one by Darius Johnson-Odom, but Dook punched the nitrous and that was all she wrote.  (How am I doing mixing my metaphors?)

As we expected/feared, Dook had plenty of excellent looks from three-point land, and they buried enough of them to make it hurt.  The bigger problem, though, was the Brothers Plumlee (no, I can't be bothered to figure out which specific one was actually in the game), who had their way with Chris Otule in the early going, and the late going, and most of the going in-between.  Mix in the curious decision to try to push the tempo -- we took more shots in the first ten seconds of the shot clock than you'd expect, or want -- and that's a loss.  A good loss, maybe, but a loss nonetheless.

To the notes:

  • Jimmy Butler did yeoman's work today, putting in 22 points and grabbing six rebounds, and, most importantly, keeping his squad together when they had every reason to splinter apart as things got dicey in the first half.  He's stepped into Lazar Hayward's role seamlessly, he never quits hustling ... I'll tumble for you, Legs.  Don't go changin'. 
  • For all the nice things we said about Otule after his 15-point, eight-board performance against the Lilliputians of South Dakota, you could (and probably should) say just as many bad things after tonight's showing.  Unfortunately, Otule reverted to his heretofore standard baby-deer-in-the-headlights routine, stumbling around the court, looking confused, and getting abused routinely by the Plumli.  A forgettable performance for the big man ...
  • ... but a nice -- albeit short-lived -- game for Davante Gardner, who showed some nifty footwork and kept the Golden Eagles within shouting distance in the first half.  But Gardner looked gassed by the three-minute mark about the first half; not sure if it was conditioning (big man's still carrying a bit of baby fat) or his shoulder bugging him, but he looked exhausted/in pain.  Big Smoove put in a big effort today.
  • DJO's shot was flat broke in the first half -- long, short, side of the backboard ... you name it, he missed it.  But, as he showed last year, he can put up big offensive numbers in a hurry: 13 points on four-of-seven shooting and 4-5 throws.  Maybe that second half was what he needed going forward.  Fingers crossed.
  • Junior Cadougan put in some quality minutes in the first half, and had a delicious no-look pass to Jae Crowder for a bunny in the first half.  Dwight Buycks got more run in the second half, and Reggie Smith was AWOL -- which, in hindsight, shouldn't have been unexpected after a very bad practice yesterday.

Awards?  Sure.  Why not?

Jimmy Butler Player of the Game: goes to Jimmy Butler.  I've said all the good things I can about the kid, but if you've got more: by all means.  He's earned it.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Vander Blue was active on the defensive end and ALWAYS seems to be around the ball, but he took some poor shots on offense and still needs work on that end.  The nod today goes to Cadougan, who appears to be making strides after a rough start to the season.

ERRONEOUS! Call of the Game: This being a game in which Dook was involved, you'd probably expect a handful of questionable (if not downright homer) calls from the zebras.  Your expectations were certainly met tonight: from the phantom charge on DJO that sucked the wind from Marquette's sails; to the failure to call a goaltend on a ball that was two inches from the rim; to the lack of ANY travel calls on the Blue Devils, this one wasn't pretty for the boys in stripes.

Up next: We get the loser of Kansas State vs. Gonzaga, which Bob Knight is currently narrating on my television screen.

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