With a trip to the Final Four on the line, facing a familiar foe, Marquette's miracle run finally ran out of gas. YOUR Golden Eagles were thoroughly dismantled by the Orange People of Syracuse. And let's be honest, that could not have gone any worse.
This was not the same Syracuse team that lost to MU at the BC, back in February. Since that game Cuse had regained their stride, made the finals of the Big East Tournament, and had the look of a very hot, and very dangerous, team throughout the NCAA Tournament. It was going to take another fantastic effort for Marquette to clear this final hurdle. Unfortunately, what transpired was the worst game since the loss at Georgetown back on February 11.
I'm not even sure where to start dissecting this one. The Orange defense was incredibly active and aggressive from the very start. They were swarming every MU pass, preventing entry passes, and forcing Marquette into shots that they'd rather not be taking. The Orange defense was so effective, and the MU offense so ineffective, that Marquette didn't get their score into double digits until the 6 minute mark of the first half.
Eventually the offense got involved in the game, in the form of Davante Gardner. Gardner, who scored 26 in the first meeting between these teams, scored 7 points and assisted on another bucket, to key an 11-2 run and get Marquette back in the game at 21-18.
That was really the only serious threat that MU was able to mount in this game. Cuse led by 6 at the break and never let Marquette get closer than 4, early in the second half. From that point the Orange defense once again prevented the Golden Eagles from doing anything productive and created plenty of points for themselves. Before you could say "this is getting out of hand," things had gotten out of hand. By the 10 minute mark of the 2nd half Cuse was up 11 and and desperation was setting in.
With desperation came lots of quick, and probably ill-advised jumpers. You had the sense that Marquette knew that, if there was going to be a run, it needed to start soon. Unfortunately, the run never came. Only more missed jumpers and turnovers. The end result was a disastrous loss, of historic proportions: Syracuse 55, Marquette 39.
- It's kind of strange to come from a game where everything went so well, against Miami, to a game where everything went completely wrong. Marquette shot a mind-bogglingly bad 22.6% from the field. And if that doesn't make your head hurt, they also shot 3-24 from 3-point land. That's right, the team that needed just 6 3-point attempts to dumptruck the ACC champs, took 24 on Saturday.
- A lot of the credit for those absurdly low shooting percentages goes to the Cuse defense. The zone is designed to make Marquette play to their weaknesses - namely outside shooting. With MU being broke as shit from outside, the defense just packed the lane even further and took away the little bit of offense that did work.
- After a stellar last month or so, Vander Blue had a rough go of it. But then again, so did pretty much everyone in a gold jersey. Van scored 14 points, but shot 3-15 in doing so.
- Jamil Wilson has been as big a part of MU's run as anyone, but this one won't be going on his personal highlight reel. If anyone was going to make a few triples to soften up the zone, odds are good it was going to be Jamil. But he was 0-5 from deep, and just 1-9 overall.
- Scary moment in the first half when CJ Fair came down hard on the head and neck of Junior Cadougan. You could tell Junior didn't enjoy the experience by the blue streak of profanity that he let loose within range of the CBS microphones. Junior would head to the locker room, but was able to return to the game. I don't know how much the injury affected him for the rest of the game, but my guess is even if he was at 100% it wouldn't have made much of a difference.
- It truly has been an amazing season, and an awesome tourney run. It's a bummer that it had to end, and that it ended in such an ugly manner. The 39 points was MU's lowest offensive output since 2005.
Vander Blue Grown Ass Man of the Game: Davante Gardner on offense was really the only thing that Marquette had working. The Big Fella's hot streak in the 2nd half was the high point of the game. And the hope that we might be able to get that working again was pretty much all that kept us going in the second half. Ox scored 14 points and grabbed 8 boards. And in the insane stat of the day, Gardner was 6-9 from the field, while the rest of the team was 6-44. Yikes.
Trent Lockett Glue Guy of the Game: I'm not sure I like that title. But Trent has earned the right to have this award named after him. Unfortunately, he didn't win it today. The nod goes to Chris Otule, who did what he could in the middle against the Orange. He grabbed 6 rebounds and notched 2 blocked shots. And, like Davante, he wasn't party to the horrid shooting day, going 1-1 from the field.
Davante "Big Smoove" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: Ummm..... we're currently accepting nominations.
Up Next: Probably a spin on the coaching carousel (though, I hear UCLA has gotten their man, and Rick Barnes is still employed at UT. So maybe this year won't be too adventurous). And after that a vast, empty wasteland, completely devoid of Marquette Basketball, called summer. So I hope you guys like Adjective Survivor. Only 7 months until Marquette Madness.