After a highly successful 3-0 home stand, and a full 4 days off, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles hit the road this weekend. They traveled to the great state of Rhode Island, to take on the Providence Friars at the Dunkin Donuts Center (recently supplanted by the KFC Yum Center as the most ridiculously named arena in the Big East). Providence came in losers of 5 of their last 6 games, looking for their second conference win of the season.
The slow start syndrome that has been plaguing Marquette in their last few contests threatened to rear its ugly head in the early going of this one. After trading baskets in the first few minutes, the Friars went on a quick 11-2 run to go up 14-6. But a rare, early timeout by Buzz Williams helped stem the tide, and Marquette responded with a 20-3 run of their own over the next 7 minutes. Providence would counter the MU run and ended up leading 40-39 at the half
After recess the two squads traded baskets at an alarming pace in the early going and threatened to turn this game into a true track meet. The pace eventually slowed and Marquette was able to put some distance between themselves and the Friars. Davante Gardner emerged from a foul induced slumber to knock down a bucket that extended the lead to 68-60, with 7 minutes to play. MU was in control from then on. They eventually pushed the lead as high as 13 points, before putzing around for the last 2 minutes and winning by 7.
Thoughts, takes and awards just on the other side of this jump
- I know Keno Davis isn't the coach at Providence anymore, but his fingerprints were all over the Friars' defensive effort this evening. Marquette shot 53.7% from the field and 81.8% from 3-point land for the game. That includes a ridiculous 71% shooting in the 2nd half!
- Providence was significantly outshot in the first half as well, but kept themselves in it with rebounds and free throws. They dominated both categories in the first half - out-rebounding MU 25 to 15 and out-shooting them from the stripe 13 to 5. But Marquette adjusted and won the rebounding battle by 5 and shot 3 more free throws in the 2nd half.
- Davante Gardner found himself in foul trouble early and was pretty much non-existent for the first 33 minutes of the game. Despite the early struggles, he made an impression on the game with all 7 of his points in the last 7 minutes of the game. He really picked up the load offensively late and helped carry MU to the finish line.
- Jae Crowder came out hot in this one. After relatively quiet first halves in the past few games, the Absolute Weapon scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half.
- Darius Johnson-Odom was brutally efficient in this game. He tied with Crowder for team high, with 18 points, on 6-9 from the field, 3-3 from distance, and 3-3 from the charity stripe. That's getting some serious bang for your buck folks.
- The Friars' leading scorer, Vincent Council, made his triumphant return to the lineup, after being suspended for the team's last game due to "accountability issues". Well Vincent, thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts for you. Council scored 11 points, but shot just 2 of 13 from the floor in his return.
- Reminder: EVERY BIG EAST ROAD WIN IS PRECIOUS. There were certainly some things that one could gripe about in this game (I'd start with the 16 offensive rebounds, but that's just me). But any time you go on the road in this conference and come out with a W, it is to be celebrated. I don't care who it's against.
Jimmy Butler Player of the Game: Crowder and DJO both had fantastic games. If you wanted to give the nod to either of them tonight, you would certainly have a good case. But we are giving tonight's JBPOTG to Jamil Wilson. Wilson was thrust into duty early because of Davante's foul troubles and capitalized big time. I like to think that he was inspired by hearing that one of his fellow Rebels was taking up for him, but whatever the reason Jamil had a coming out party in Providence tonight. He notched a career high 16 points (in a career high 33 minutes), hit 7 of 13 shots and hit 'em from all over the floor. He also tacked on 7 rebounds and 3 blocks to round out his evening. This further illustrates the idea that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what Jamil is capable of doing.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: How does one impact the game while scoring only 2 points? Just do like Junior Cadougan did tonight, and hand out 10 assists... 7 before the half. That also happens to be a great way to earn the Fulce Award.
Davante "Big Smooth" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: Say what you want about his recent offensive struggles, but Vander Blue can throw it down with the best of 'em. Early in the second half Jae Crowder came up with a steal and threw it ahead to Vander, who dunked it with authority. That seemed to be the announcement that Marquette was hereby taking control of this game.
Up Next: The South Florida Bulls come north to see what this "winter" thing is all about. They'll visit the Bradley Center at 7:00 CST this Tuesday night. This is an important game for Marquette as they'll play 3 of their next 4 games on the road after this and will need a win to keep pace at the top of the Big East. I know we'll see you all there.