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Some Inconvenient Truths: LSU 67, No. 10/10 Marquette 59

At this point, you probably know the gritty details of what happened to YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles in last night's disheartening 67-59 loss to Louisiana State. If you don't, I can summarize things for you briefly: Marquette jumped out to a 13-0 lead three minutes into the game, put its tail between its legs for the rest of the first half, showed a bit of pluck after intermission, and then ultimately folded like a poorly constructed blanket fort in the last two minutes of the game.

Now that everyone is up to speed, let's dissect Marquette's first loss of the year by looking at the things that were probably flukes and the things that probably weren't. To the bullet points!

Things That Were Probably Random:

  • Coming off a nine-day layoff, Darius Johnson-Odom wasn't good. His shot was fine -- 6-11 overall, 4-7 from three -- but he was clearly out of sorts all game. He finished with six turnovers.
  • Todd Mayo has been superb for most of his freshman season. Last night, he wasn't, especially on the defensive end, where he whiffed on a number of steal attempts and ended up leaving his man (or somebody else's man) a wide-open look.
  • Junior Cadougan only had one assist, and the team had seven as a whole. That's probably not going to happen again this year.
  • LSU made 7 of 11 three-point attempts. They probably don't convert that many threes in pre-game warmups.

Things That Probably Weren't Random:

  • Jae Crowder is a freaking manimal.
  • Save for a blatant and inexcusable foul on a three-point attempt, Vander Blue was good: he played in control, didn't force things (1-4 from the field), and finished with six boards and three assists. He's fine, and I'm confident he'll be fine going forward.
  • Now, for the bad news: the defense is, to put it mildly, a major ****ing problem. As we told you in the preview yesterday, LSU is one of the worst shooting teams in D1 basketball. And yet Marquette allowed that outfit to put up an eFG% of 61.6% (TWELVE EXCLAMATION POINTS) for the game, including an eFG% of roughly 8000% (that's an estimate) in the second half.
  • The loss of Chris Otule is being felt more acutely (and sooner) than any of us could have expected. In hindsight, Big Chris covered up for a huge number of mistakes on the defensive end: the fact that Cadougan can't stay in front of anyone defensively was covered up by the 7-footer patrolling the paint, and we were free to take chances on steal attempts knowing that Big Chris' help defense was so good, and Jae and Jamil Wilson and Vander didn't have to worry as much about boxing out and could attack the boards at will. Now, without Otule, all that has gone to pot, and it's done so in a hurry.
  • In limited action, Davante Gardner is an incredibly efficient player: last year, for example, he had the highest eFG% on the team and also had the squad's highest offensive-rebound percentage. Unfortunately, though, it seems that the number of minutes Davante gets is inversely proportional to his effectiveness. In 27 minutes last night, he managed just seven points and eight boards while turning the ball over three times. The bigger problem, of course, is his defense, which is hard to quantify but easy to understand if you watched the game. He just ... can't ... move.
  • It pains me to say this, because I have a whole vat of Jamil Wilson Kool-Aid on ice in my basement, but I'm not sure it's going to happen for Jamil this year, you guys.

And I haven't even gotten to Coach Buzz yet, who turned in a brutal outing of his own that shouldn't be overlooked. It's clear that Buzz hasn't come close to figuring out what to do with the defense since Otule went down, and, once again, with his team flailing in the first half and desperately in need of a calming influence, Buzz opted to let them wilt on the floor while saving his timeouts like they were carryover minutes on a cell phone plan. Plus, he airballed his only attempt from the field/sideline, showing hideous form on a fade-away three.

Alright, enough of that. Let's do some awards and look ahead, after the jump.

Jimmy Butler Player of the Game Award: On a night when some guys were a little off and some guys were really off, Jae Crowder was great. The Absolut Weapon was 7-17 from the field, 4-10 from three, hit 4 of 5 throws, grabbed nine boards (four on offense), had three steals, and single-handedly kept his team in the game. Don't go changing, Jae. I'll tumble for you.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game:
Not much to choose from here, unfortunately, so the "winner" of the Fulce tonight is Vander Blue, who had an active 32-minute stint with six boards (four offensive), three assists, two steals, some good defense, and no turnovers.

Davante "Big Smooth" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game:
Again, the pickins are slim, but the obvious choice is Crowder's four-point play in the middle of the first half, when he ripped cord on the three while absorbing the foul to momentarily restore sanity to the game.

Up Next:
Two days to game plan for Milwaukee and sharp-shooter extraordinaire Tony Meier, who's going to strafe the hell out of Marquette if the three-point defense doesn't get fixed post haste.

Until then.