January 24th vs South Florida.
That was the last time that Marquette didn't put themselves into some kind of a hole in the first half of a game. Well, the last time before Saturday afternoon in Hartford.
Darius Johnson-Odom opened the scoring up with a three pointer. UConn rallied to tie the game on a Ryan Boatright jumper and an Andre Drummond free throw. From there, Junior Cadougan drained a three pointer the next time down the court and believe it or not, Marquette took the lead for good just 2 minutes and 23 seconds into the game.
The big feature for the Marquette offense was the fast break. MU had 11 fast break points in the first half, but that doesn't really explain what was happening. Over and over again, a Golden Eagle would be back behind every single Husky for an easy layup, dunk, or foul. When you combine that with an outstanding 3JO exhibition as DJO went 4-7 behind the arc in the first half, Marquette rolled to a 43-29 halftime lead.
But no one expects to go on the road and win that easily. We knew that a UConn run was coming, it was just a matter of time. It turns out that it really wasn't. Boatright hit a three pointer to start the scoring in the second half and soon, MU was on the business end of a 9-1 Connecticut run. But in the middle of the run was the start of what would cause the run to end. Boatright hit another three and spent time pointing at the XL Center crowd instead of noticing Jamil Wilson zipping down the court behind him. Wilson would be fouled on his layup attempt and make one of two free throws for Marquette's only points in the run. But this was just foreshadowing.
After Alex Oriakhi dunked to cut MU's lead to 4, Buzz Williams called time out to regroup. That's when Ryan Boatright's brain shut down. He decided to follow Todd Mayo to the MU bench and trash talk at the Marquette freshman. Apparently he said a magic word or two because, as we found out when the ESPN broadcast returned from commercial, Boatright had been issued a technical foul. Johnson-Odom calmly hit both free throws, Jae Crowder hit one of his three second half three pointers, and BOOM, the lead was back to nine and Marquette was firmly in control of the momentum once again and wouldn't let go.
I've managed to type over 400 words about this game without even mentioning the best part, so join me after the jump for some notes and awards!
- That best part that I mentioned? Jae Crowder's performance on the Mothership. Marquette fans have long been aware of the skills of the Absolut Weapon, but now they have been put on display for everyone to see. 29 points on 8 of 17 shooting (4-7 behind the arc), 12 rebounds, an assist and three steals. Yet another MANIMAL performance from Crowder. If he does not make it to the All-Big East First Team, we riot.
- The big concern on everyone's mind going into the game was how Marquette was going to deal with the twin inside forces of Alex Oriakhi (6'9", 240 lbs.) and Andre Drummond (6'10", 270 lbs.) without any players over 6'7" available for the game. As you can guess from Jae grabbing 12 rebounds on his own, Marquette did pretty damn great at dealing with UConn's size. Oriakhi and Drummond combined for 17 points and 7 rebounds. To give you a perfect picture of how useful Drummond was in this game, we can point you to this: Drummond picked up his fourth foul by flying into Crowder on a three point attempt that the 6'6" Crowder made.
- We talked a lot about rebounding in the By The Numbers preview on Friday, so we'd be remiss in not touching on it here. Not only did Marquette grab more offensive rebounds than UConn (10-9), but they also beat them out relative to available misses (32.3% to 28.1%).
- Last but not least: Marquette beat a George Blaney coached UConn team in Connecticut for the third consecutive year. I don't know why they keep putting Blaney in charge when Jim Calhoun is out for whatever reason, but it can not be the best possible plan.
eFG%: MU - 53.7% UConn - 49.1%
TO%: MU - 15.1% UConn - 18.2%
OReb%: MU - 32.3% UConn - 28.1%
FT Rate: MU - 48.1% UConn - 39.6%
Points Per Possession: MU - 1.19 UConn - 0.97
Player Of The Game: Duh. Jae Crowder.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle Of The Game: Here's what happened when I looked at the box score to see if there was someone to highlight here: "All right, click on the tab, let's see here, Todd had 10 points, that's a nice game for him, Vander didn't have a lot going onJUNIOR HAD EIGHT ASSISTS?" I literally had no idea that this happened until right now. How's that for defining undersung? Junior Cadougan, this one's for you.
Davante "Big Smooth" Smooth Play Of The Game: Any one of Marquette's deep passes past the defense for an easy layup would work here, but I'm going to go much more subtle. I'm giving this one to Todd Mayo for calmly walking toward the Marquette bench while Ryan Boatright started jawing at him. In a season where Mayo seemed to hit a freshman wall from a scoring perspective, his attitude on the court has been nothing but flawless, unlike his first year counterpart in Boatright. If Mayo had reacted at all to Boatright, it may have just ended up in the referees separating the players and warning both benches. But Mayo let Boatright talk himself into trouble. Very smooth.
Up Next: The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers come to Milwaukee on Wednesday night. Second to the last home game, and the last home game with available tickets. You're running out of chances to see a very special Marquette team in person, so take advantage if you can!