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No. 16/16 Notre Dame 80, Marquette 75.

Before the game, I hoped that the second verse of the Marquette-Notre Dame matchup would be the same as the first.  Instead, the game turned into the second verse of the Louisville debacle, as YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles gacked up another double-digit, second-half lead and fell to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, 80-75.

This game was a tale of two halves, as Marquette dominated the first twenty minutes, hitting 62% of its field goal attempts and riding Darius Johnson-Odom's 15-point first half performance to a nine-point halftime advantage and a 45-point output.  In the second half, Marquette quickly jumped out to a twelve-point lead before the Irish and eager accomplice Ed Hightower roared back.  Behind a 2-3 zone and (roughly) 83 foul calls on Marquette, Notre Dame won the second 20 minutes, 44-30, to steal a much-needed Big East road win from the Golden Eagles.

It's late, and I've had a few too many Sprecher Dopple Bocks, and I want to watch Sex and the City 2 with Mrs. Q, so let's get to the notes:

  • Ed Hightower was whistle-happy for the first 22 minutes of the game, then decided to not call any fouls during the critical stretch when Notre Dame seized control.  I know: I'm as shocked as you are.  At least Hightower cemented the three-way tie for Worst Official in the History of Officiating, with Jim Burr and Tim "I've Never Met a Shot of Jame-O I Didn't Like" Higgins.
  • To put a finer point on the officiating in the game: both Jae Crowder and Chris Otule fouled out of the game. Prior to today's horrifically officiated mess, Marquette hadn't had a player foul out of a game this season. To put a cherry on top of this shit sundae, Junior Cadougan had four fouls, DJO had three, and Vander Blue had three fouls in as many minutes (I believe; I don't know, I didn't look at the numbers that closely).
  • Ben Hansbrough, who's certain to enjoy an unfulfilling career in life insurance sales/YMCA pickup leagues following his college basketball career, picked up three first-half fouls ... and somehow, someway didn't pick up a SINGLE foul in the second half.  How that happened, I'm not exactly sure, because Li'l Brother was bumping and grabbing and chucking throughout the second 20 minutes.  Still, he managed 28 points and was at the center of the carnage when ND took over the game.
  • DJO did man's work tonight: he hit 6-14 shots and only 2-7 threes, but he knocked down 11 throws (out of 13 attempts) en route to 25 points, to go along with four assists.  Jae Crowder deserves special mention, too: despite being forced to play with one arm behind his back because of the officials, Jae still managed 15 points and eight rebounds.
  • From the "how the hell did we lose this game?" files: Marquette had 17 assists on 25 field goals, and only turned the ball over six times.  The abysmal shooting in the second half was the culprit, as Marquette's shooting percentage dropped from 62% to 43.9% for the game.  Couple that with Notre Dame's 36 attempts from the line -- griping about the officiating isn't sour grapes when the game is this one-sided, BTW -- and you've got the recipe for a loss.
  • Jimmy Butler hit two three-point attempts in the first five minutes of the game, but it was a struggle for JFB from there, as he hit only two more field goal attempts and finished 4-13 from the field.  Of course, Jimmy was hammered on several of his shots, but Easy Ed and his cronies were too busy posing for the crowd to notice.
  • Junior Cadougan had an impressive first half, finishing on a couple of tough drives to the basket and even completing a three-point play after getting drilled on a layup.  He finished with seven points and four assists.
  • Notre Dame isn't good.  At all.  I hope they enjoy their annual 12-over-5 upset in the tournament.
The awards, quickly, because Aidan's coming back soon:

Jimmy Butler Player of the Game Award: No other choice but DJO here: kid was on fire in the first half and did all he could in the second, despite the uneven officiating and his team's stagnant offense.  All that talk of DJO's second-year slump has gone by the wayside, it seems.  That 30-point breakout performance is coming, and it's coming right soon.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: A couple of headscratching jumpers notwithstanding, our man Joe did work tonight, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds, four on the offensive end.

Up Next: Marquette has two days to lick its wounds -- and to plot the demise of Hightower -- before the UConn Kemba Walkers come to town.  UConn dispatched Bruce Pearl (and Tim Maymon) and the Tennessee Volunteers today, and the Huskies are riding a five-game winning streak into Tuesday's matchup.