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No. 1/1 Syracuse 73, No. 20/20 Marquette 66

The Big East gauntlet continued today for YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles as they traveled to the Carrier Dome to take on the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Syracuse Orange. As one of the more optimistic contributors to this blog, even I had to poke a hole in my usually half full glass prior to this game. In my opinion, the Orange have one of the most complete teams in the NCAA and are bigger, playing better, and deeper than the Golden Eagles. Throw in the fact that Syracuse was out to avenge their second round loss to Marquette in last year's NCAA tournament, this had all the makings of a Marquette blood bath and my expectations were very low.

As painful as Marquette's second half performance versus Georgetown on Wednesday was, the first half of today's game may have been worse. Syracuse dominated the first half of action and lead by as many as 23 points before taking a 37-19 lead into the half. Marquette made things interesting in the second half and cut the lead to 2. However, the 18 point half time lead was too much to overcome and Marquette dropped its second consecutive game and 4th out of the last 6. Marquette now stands at 12-4 overall, 1-2 in the Big East.

At the end of the day, these last 2 road losses to Georgetown and Syracuse will not go down as bad losses. However, the final scores of these games don't tell the whole story. In each game, one half of the game was marred by serious defensive lapses and long stretches of offensive struggles, while the other half proved that Marquette has the ability to play with anyone in the country. Marquette hasn't played a complete game since the upset victory over the Badgers in the Kohl Center in Madison and today was no different.

The tale of 2 halves and game awards after the jump.

First Half: Brandon Triche hit a 3 on the opening possession of the game and Syracuse was off and running. He lead all scorers with 13 first half points. In the early going both teams were sloppy, but Marquette struggled against the famed Syracuse 2-3 zone. Unable to effectively attack the zone, we were forced into bad shots and turnovers. Throw in a 21-1 first half run and stretch of 10 minutes of game time where Marquette didn't score a bucket and you have a recipe for disaster. Syracuse forced 14 Marquette turnovers, outrebounded the Golden Eagles 20-14 and shot 41% from the field and 45% from long range as compared to Marquette's 30% from the field and 14% from long range.

Second Half: Whatever Coach Buzz Williams said to his team at halftime seemed to work as the Golden Eagles opened the half on a 10-2 run. Free throws resulting from a flagrant foul on Fab Melo for elbowing Jamil Wilson and a 3 pointer by Junior Cadougan cut the lead to 3 with 9:16 left. The comeback was fueled by finishing off defensive stops and attacking the creases in the Syracuse zone. A DJO 3 cut the lead to 2 with 4:52 left but that's as close as the Golden Eagles would get. Marquette fell in love with the 3 a little too much down the stretch and was unable to close the deal.

Jimmy Butler Player of the Game: Jae Crowder earns the JBPOG with 15 points (14 second half points), 7 boards, 3 steals all while battling foul trouble against a taller and more athletic Syracuse front line.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of The Game: We might want to hold the phone on the Vander Blue as point guard experiment as the Junior Cadougan we've been expecting all year made an appearance in the second half of today's game. After going scoreless in the first half, Junior ended the game with 10 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 rebounds and was making plays on the offensive side of the ball during Marquette's second half run.

Davante "Big Smooth" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: The play of the game came with under a minute to go in the game. Fresh off a Jae Crowder 3 to make the score 68-63 with 1:23 to play, Marquette needed a defensive stop. Jae Crowder forced a turnover by Dion Waiters and on the 3 on 1 fast break a wide open DJO was primed to make things interesting with a wide open three attempt, however for no apparent reason Junior Cadougan lost control of his dribble resulting in a turnover and the final nail in the Marquette coffin.

Up Next: Marquette returns home for a crucial 3 game home stand against St. John's, Pittsburgh, and Louisville. A 2-1 record gets Marquette back to .500 in conference play. The first game of the home stand against the Johnnies tips off at 6:00 pm on Wednesday at the Bradley Center. See you there!