I don't want to spend a lot of time on this, because we're going to be right back here again on Saturday. But making a record of the first step along a path is important.
While BYU won the tip and had the first shot, it was a Darius Johnson-Odom threeball that got things started and quickly Marquette found themselves up 14-4. DJO got things started, but it was Jae Crowder who started making his presence felt. First it was quietly working his way into history. Early in the game, Crowder became the 44th player in Marquette history to break the 1,000 point plateau and just the fifth player to do it in two seasons, joining George Thompson, Dean Meminger, Dwyane Wade and DJO. Right after that, Jae became the 20th player in Marquette history to rack up 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career. Stay with me for a moment here: George Thompson is the only other player on that 5 player list I just rattled off to break the 500 rebound barrier and he only had 458 after his second season at Marquette.
Jae Crowder is the first player in Marquette history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in just two seasons.
By the end of the half, Crowder had already finished his fourth straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. By the time the game ended, he had 25 points, a career high 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Crowder is just the third player in NCAA Tournament history to hit those totals and the first in 36 years, joining Providence's Marvin Barnes in 1974 and UCLA's Marques Johnson in 1976.
Marquette had a 15 point lead at halftime, and anyone who watched the BYU-Iona game on Tuesday night isn't surprised that BYU made a solid attempt to get back into this game. Within 5 minutes of the start of the second half, Junior Cadougan had started booting the ball all over the arena and BYU had pulled within 6. Two Matt Carlino turnovers later and Marquette had it back over double digits. A Noah Hartsock and one layup with 13:06 remaining would briefly push it back to 8, but that would be the last time the Cougars would get it to single digits.
Let's hit the jump for some notes, Four Factors and awards!
- I see you, Todd Mayo. Twice late in the second half, the freshman buried open three pointers to push the lead from 10 back to 13. If Mayo's rediscovered his early season confidence and shooting stroke, that adds a new dimension to Marquette's offense that has to be respected by defenses. Dude was pretty useful elsewhere on the floor as well, grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 2 assists and snaring 2 steals.
- Vander Blue is a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is. After an 8 point, 5 rebound performance from the sophomore, he said that he thought Marquette could be getting more shots for Crowder and DJO. This, after a game where the seniors shot 53% of Marquette's shots. Can't ask much more from a guy than knowing what's the best way for his team to win.
- As I mentioned briefly, Junior Cadougan started out the 2nd half looking like the worst player on the floor by a wide margin. Marquette committed 4 turnovers as a team in the first half. Junior had 2 on his own in the first 123 seconds of the 2nd half as Marquette committed 6 in the first 3:45 of the second frame. While he wasn't the one charged with the turnover, a lot of those other 4 turnovers in the early second half were because Cadougan was WAY out of control. As a specific example: on one trip up the floor, Junior nearly dribbled the ball off of the heels of BYU's Brandon Davies as Davies calmly walked up the floor, seemingly unaware that Cadougan was even near him.
- What else can we say about Davante Gardner? You put him on the floor, and you get something useful for every minute he's out there: 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 22 minutes.
eFG%: MU - 52.3% BYU - 43.4%
TO%: MU - 20.4% BYU - 21.4%
OReb%: MU - 39% BYU - 22%
FT Rate: MU - 39.4% BYU - 36.1%
Jae Crowder Player Of The Game: When you start altering program history books and affecting NCAA tournament history books in the same game, you get named player of the game, so this one's for Jae Crowder.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle Of The Game: 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the second half when MU was busy fending off BYU's furious comeback attempts? Given the stage they're on and the record book writing that Crowder was doing, it's easy to miss how important DJO was in the second half, so this one is for Darius Johnson-Odom.
Davante "Big Smooth" Gardner Smooth Play Of The Game: It only goes into the play-by-play as a pair of free throws, but the way that Gardner got there was pretty great. Ox had the ball on the far block and handed it off to a cutting Vander Blue, who missed the reverse layup. Jae Crowder was there to clean up the miss and was immediately swarmed under by BYU defenders. But the Absolut Weapon saw a now completely open Gardner and flipped it to him. The shot didn't go down due to Ox getting fouled, but the alertness of all three players involved, especially Gardner, was very smooth.
Up Next: The Murray State Racers took care of their business on Thursday afternoon and will hook it up with Marquette on Saturday evening at 4:15pm Central time.