Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Golden Eagles notch their first true road win of the season at The Oakland Zoo.
Due to morning obligations, I was unable to watch Saturday's Marquette - Pitt match-up live. So I was forced to DVR the game and try to ignore all text messages, social media, talk radio and any websites that may have contained information about the game. No small feat. I also had to consider how long to record over the scheduled TV time slot that the game would be airing in. I opted for 30 minutes, but later called home and asked my wife to extend the recording should the need arise. She was irritated by the request, but I knew she'd have me covered.
I was able to make it home completely uncorrupted by game news - though the amount of texts buzzing my pocket gave me an indication that something wacky was afoot. And I sat down to watch a game that I was fairly certain MU had already lost. As I started to watch, I noticed that the Texas - Iowa State game was still recording, and I was a bit puzzled. I inquired with Mrs. K and she cleverly replied "Well you asked me to record longer, so I just recorded the entire next game." A fair enough explanation.
The early going was a touch on the mind boggling side. A Marquette team that could barely throw the ball in the ocean from 3-point land all season, was suddenly torching the nets. Juan Anderson, Jamil Wilson, Todd Mayo, and Vander Blue all drained triples in the first 10 minutes of the game. Pitt on the other hand couldn't hit anything, but were keeping it close with offensive boards, free throws, and ridiculous Marquette turnovers. I'm not sure if I have this exactly correct, but I believe MU had 16 points on 6-9 shooting, and 6 turnovers, at the midway point of the 1st half. That's some good efficiency... on the possessions where they actually got shots off anyways.
The biggest moment of the game came fairly early in the first half when Derrick Wilson and Pitt point guard Tray Woodall had a little head-to-head collision while diving for a loose ball. Wilson was able to return to the game, Woodall was not. And it was a good thing that Wilson was able to come back, because not long after this incident Junior Cadougan landed on a defender's foot after jumping and rolled an ankle. He would try to come back, but ultimately would be held out of the remainder of the game.
With both teams down their senior leaders, the second half was a back and forth affair. Marquette maintained a lead throughout, but was never able to extend it beyond 6 points. Each time MU would look to put some space between themselves and the Panthers, either a turnover, a foul, a Pitt offensive rebound, or 3-pointer would reel them back in. All the while I'm thinking: "We lose this game, I just know it. We're gonna lose and we have no business losing. That's why everyone was texting me, I bet."
That feeling persisted, even with Marquette up 3 with less than a minute to play. After a Panther miss with 33 seconds left, Davante Gardner corralled the rebound. But rather than letting Pitt foul him (an 83% foul shooter), he passed off to Derrick Wilson (a 53% foul shooter). Naturally Derrick was fouled and went to the line to shoot 1 and 1. Much to my delight, Derrick nailed the first before missing the 2nd. It was a 4 point MU lead with 30 seconds left. All we had to do is not do anything stupid, make some throws and get out of here with a precious conference road win. Maybe my pessimism was all for naught?
That thought was still fresh in my mind as Jamil Wilson fouled Patterson on a drive to the rack with 24 seconds left. Patterson missed first, before making the second. It was still a 3 point lead. All we had to do was get the ball inbounds to Vander or Trent or Davante and make a free throw. It's that easy!
But it isn't that easy, is it? No chance. The inbound pass did get in to Davante. But rather than covering up and waiting to get fouled, Davante lost his damn mind and tried to turn into Magic Johnson in the open floor. He dribbled past 2 defenders along the sideline, before attempting a wild jump pass to Lockett on the far side of the floor. Of course the ball ended up in the 2nd row. It was still a 3 point lead, and it was Pitt's ball. Suddenly my mind drifted to the Texas-Iowa State game being recorded...
"THIS IS WHY YOU EXTENDED THE RECORDING, ISN'T IT!?!?!?" I asked Mrs. K (who, to this point had pretended not to know what had happened in the game). She nodded reluctantly. So then I knew, we were indeed going to blow it. And after Pitt burned 18 of the remaining 19 seconds off the game clock, they inbounded to an inexplicably wide open Lamar Patterson who buried a triple to send this game needlessly into overtime. Now I knew we were going to lose.
Luckily, that miracle shot was Pitt's last gasp. Marquette won the OT 17-10, salting the game away from the free throw line. Finally I could exhale... and read all of my texts... and check Anonymous Eagle, of course.
- If Juan Anderson is going to add 3-point range to his repertoire, then he is going to be one hell of a player. He knocked down 2 of 3 from distance on Saturday, and looked good doing it.
- Despite their early struggles, MU actually won the rebounding battle in this game, 32-26.
- Awesome effort from Derrick Wilson. He filled in nicely after Junior went down. I'm too lazy to look it up and be certain, but I feel like I'm pretty safe in declaring his 31 minutes a career high.
- Davante Gardner's late gaffe will be well remembered. But you could also make the point that Ox is the man that prevented Marquette from blowing this game. He made 3 HUGE baskets down the stretch, at critical moments. Two of those baskets came on offensive rebound put-backs, when Pitt had gotten within 1 of the lead. If the Panthers get either of those boards and actually get a lead, this may have turned out vastly different.
- I still don't know how good this team really is. BUT a 3-0 start in the Big East, with a win on the road is nothing to sneeze at. With 3 of the next 4 at home (against Seton Hall, Providence and South Florida) and one roadie at Cincinnati, I think there's a realistic possiblity of being 7-0 heading into Louisville.
- Was anyone else annoyed every time the announce team mentioned that MU hadn't won a road game this year? Not annoyed that they mentioned it, but annoyed that the reason they were able to say that is because of that damn UWGB loss. Or maybe that was just me.