Marquette 81, Centenary 52.

Did you forget there was a Marquette game yesterday?  That's OK: for the first 20 minutes of yesterday's contest vs. the winless Gentlepeople of Centenary, it seemed that YOUR Golden Eagles didn't remember they had a game, either.

With a flurry of bad passes, poor shooting, and spotty defense, Marquette turned in its ugliest performance since the end of the UW-Milwaukee near-debacle in the opening 20 minutes of the game.  After jumping out to a quick 8-0 advantage, Marquette went vegetative, allowing Centenary -- a squad that lost by 60-plus to Memphis and by 40 to LSU -- to hang around and leading by a mere 12 points, 36-24, at intermission.  While there was plenty of blame to go around for the uneven performance, the most troubling display came -- AGAIN -- from Darius Johnson-Odom, who tallied two points in the first half and, as he has all year, generally looked out of sorts.

The second half was a marked improvement, as Marquette quickly ran out to a 20-point cushion against the diminutive Gentlefolk and coasted from there.  DJO was much, much better in the second half, scoring 14 points on a variety of drives, floaters, jumpers, and a three-ball.  Vander Blue also did his part in the second 20 minutes, stuffing the stat sheet with what's quickly becoming a Blue Light Special: 16 points (on eight-of-ten shooting), 9 boards, 5 assists, and a steal.

You can't learn very much from a game like this, since Centenary seized the mantle of "Worst Team You'll See This Year" from Longwood.  (Or maybe Prairie View.  I don't know, take your pick.)  But, for whatever it's worth, a few nuggets:

  • Jae Crowder earned the start over Chris Otule and, as you've come to expect, drained his first three-point attempt of the game.  After that, though, Crowder wasn't very good: 2-9 from the field the rest of the way (including 0-3 on three-pointers) with just six rebounds in sixteen minutes.
  • Jamail Jones and Erik Williams saw significant action for the first time in a while, and each responded impressively: Jones stroked three triples -- distressingly, it was probably the best shooting performance we've seen from a wing this year -- and finished with a career-high 11 points in 11 minutes (though he committed back-to-back turnovers after getting the nod to start the second half, and routinely lost his man on backdoor plays).  For his part, E-Will scored 7 while pulling down 10 rebounds in 23 minutes of action (though he drew a stern "tsk tsk" from George Thompson on the radio broadcast when he failed to secure a rebound on a missed free throw and let a much smaller Centenarian swat the ball away).
  • For some reason, against one of the smallest teams we'll see this year, Chris Otule only saw nine minutes of action, scoring two points on two free throws, missing his only two attempts from the field, and grabbing three rebounds.  Davante Gardner was also missing in action, held out until Frozena Time because of a balky ankle.
  • Jimmy Butler (10 points and 12 rebounds) threw a scare into the congregation when he went down favoring his leg in the second half, but he returned a few minutes later and didn't seem to be worse for wear.

Half-arsed awards for a half-arsed effort:

Jimmy Butler Player of the Game Award: In a game where nobody played particularly well, the nod goes to Vander Blue, who's quickly ascending my list of College Players I'd Pay To See Play.  He's going to put together a triple-double at some point; probably not this year, but I'm expecting one next year. 

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Take a bow, Erik Williams.  Though his shot selection still leaves a bit to be desired -- kid really likes his jumper, is what I'm sayin' -- you'll get your share of run for this team if you can continue grabbing a rebound every other minute. 

Up Next: The Golden Eagles take two days off before finishing off the cupcake portion of the schedule with Mississippi Valley State.  The Delta Devils gave Kentucky a game for all of 12 minutes yesterday before losing by 25 in Lexington.

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