Thrive and Advance: No. 25 Marquette 86, Cal State Fullerton 66

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette celebrated Thanksgiving with a leisurely romp over the host Titans to advance to the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy tournament.

I imagine you've got leftover pie to eat, or you need to get back to the absurdly inappropriate stories your crazy, racist uncle is sharing with the family, so let's get right to the bullet points following YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles' 86-66 blistering of Cal State Fullerton in the first (second? Was that game against Arizona State officially a part of this tournament? I'm still not clear on that point) round of the Wooden Legacy tournament:

  • When you're facing a heavy underdog on the road in a half-full (and that's being exceedingly generous) gym, it's best for everybody involved if you can step on some throats and break some spirits in short order. Marquette did just that on Thursday: after the game was knotted at 11 following some hot three-point shooting by the Titans, MU grabbed the lead and quickly blew it open to double digits. The lead hovered around 10 for the last 10 minutes of the first half, was 13 by halftime, and never got back to single digits after intermission.
  • Jamil Wilson had the kind of game that is simultaneously intoxicating and infuriating: in full command of his prodigious talents, Wilson torched CSUF for 20 first-half points en route to a 24-point, 9-rebound, 4-assist performance in just 25 minutes. He ran the floor, finished in transition, hit from deep, hit from mid-range, and left you scratching your head, wondering: "He's so good. How is he not this good all the time?"
  • Davante Gardner overpowered and outwitted everyone and everything Fullerton threw at him, finishing 8-11 from the floor and tallying nine rebounds to go with his 18 points and two assists. It's not easy to lose track of a 290-pound human being, but there were more than a couple of occasions where Titan defenders were left with the dreaded "I said to Hollywood 'where'd he go?', and Hollywood says 'where'd WHOOOOOO go?'" look on their faces as the Big Ballerina slipped behind everybody for easy layups.
  • If you're familiar with our operation here at Anonymous Eagle, you know we're not big on recruiting rankings. That said: JaJuAn Johnson's 27-minute performance -- 6-8 from the floor, a perfect 3-3 from distance, two rebounds, three assists, a steal, even a block -- was the kind that makes you say: "Ohhhh, THAT'S why he's the highest-rated recruit Buzz Williams has ever signed."
  • Besides the showings from those three players, the performance of the rest of the troops can be summarized in a few words: Derrick Wilson was fine (6 points, 5 assists), but wasn't the guy we saw against Arizona State; Jake Thomas was back to being Jake Thomas; Steve Taylor is lost in the tall grass right now; Todd Mayo isn't quite right yet following his ankle injury; Deonte Burton is a force of nature, though today it was more of an "out of control like a tornado" force of nature; and Chris Otule's fake eye got some run on the broadcast, because it's not like we've been talking about that for the last three years or anything.
Some awards before the Thanksgiving nightcap:

Jae Crowder Player of the Year of the Game: Jamil Wilson is the easy choice here, but seriously: the next time he goes for 7 points and 5 rebounds against Tennessee North South Central Chattanooga, I'm going to bite my pillow.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: The stats don't show it, but John Dawson spelled Derrick Wilson for 13 turnover-free minutes and generally looked less deer-in-the-headlights-y than he did at the start of the season. Granted, it was just Cal State Fullerton, but after Dawson couldn't handle Southern's token pressure in the opener, his steady play tonight was a welcome development.

Davante "Big Smoove" Gardner Smoove Play of the Game: We'll double your pleasure for the holiday: with Marquette up 13-11 in the early stages of the first half, Jamil Wilson twice ran The Patented Lazar Hayward Trailer 3-Pointer play to perfection, taking feeds from Jake Thomas and draining a couple triples from the top of the key to run Marquette's lead to eight.

Up Next: There will be no rematch of last season's Sweet 16 blitzkrieg of Miami, as the Hurricanes dropped an overtime decision to George Washington in the first quarterfinal of the Wooden Legacy this afternoon. That means YOUR Golden Eagles draw the Colonials sometime tomorrow; the exact time won't be hashed out until the Creighton-Arizona State game is finished.

Until then.
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