Bizarro Big East continued in full effect on Friday night in Morgantown. This was a game that most Marquette fans were dreading from the get-go. Nothing says loss like: 1) Less than 48 hour turnaround for a road game 2) A desperate home team fighting for their NCAA tournament lives 3) 0-4 all-time record in Morgantown and 4) visions of Mike Gansey in his gray Hanes T-shirt raining threes.
But wait, there's more. Less than a half hour before game time, news broke via Jim McIlvaine's Twitter account that Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan were suspended for the first half and Todd Mayo was suspended for the second half. This had all the makings of a classic beat down.
Fortunately for Marquette, the first 10 minutes of the game more closely resembled an 8th grade girls' game with numerous turnovers, air balls and bricks. Jamil Wilson led the charge with 8 points and the game was tied 13-13 at the half's mid-point.
West Virginia finally took advantage of MU's inexperience in the final 10 minutes, going on a 15-4 run capped by two 3-pointers from Truck Bryant. When all was said and done, Marquette was down 32-21 at the half. West Virginia was +8 in second chance points and had a +10 rebounding advantage.
The second half, awards and a special GIF after the jump.
Despite the addition of DJO, Junior and Van, the second half started slowly for Marquette. A Truck Bryant three extended WVU's lead to 15 at the 18:40 mark, but then West Virginia went cold and Marquette made the charge. A 12-2 run closed the gap to 39-34. The run was aided by the patented West Virginia scoring drought. Over a 7-minute span, the Mountaineers shot 1-10 from the field, including 3 misses on one possession, missed 2 free throws and turned the ball over 4 times.
A 9-0 run highlighted by Vander Blue's steal and dunk with 7:15 left finally put Marquette in the lead at 46-45. Marquette was able to build the lead to 5 with 1:06 left, but West Virginia had one final push left, courtesy of some dumb play by Marquette.
DJO had the ball and the lead with 35 seconds left and West Virginia was content to play defense. Inexplicably, DJO drove into the lane and forced up a shot, which led to a Keaton Miles layup at the other end. Then, Marquette was barely able to in-bounds the ball to Junior Cadougan, who was fouled with 14 seconds left. Of course, Junior missed both free throws and West Virginia had one final chance.
After nearly turning the ball over at mid-court, WVU got a timeout to set up the final play with 6.6 seconds left. Interestingly, Huggins stuck with the hot hand in Truck Bryant instead of going to Kevin Jones. Bryant drove the lane and threw up an off-balance air ball. Some nice help defense from Jamil Wilson forced Bryant to alter his shot and that was the ball game.
That may have been the ball game, but the fun wasn't over. Buzz Williams and Jae Crowder shared an emotional embrace and then this happened. (Courtesy of SB Nation)
Jae Crowder Player of the Game Award: Is there any doubt on this one? Jae Crowder wins his namesake award by pouring in 26 points on 9-17 shooting. Jae was a rough 6-11 from the line, but the Absolut Weapon was tired from carrying this team the entire first half and playing all 40 minutes. Things are looking good for an Absolut Big East Player of the Year award for Jae.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Jamil Wilson scored all 8 of his points in the first 10 minutes of the game, which helped keep Marquette within striking distance. Jamil displayed a nice shooting stroke and looks like he could be a force next year.
Davante "Big Smooth" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: Todd Mayo has struggled the last few games, but his posterization in the first half in his home state will be a dunk he remembers for a long time.
Up Next: The suddenly feisty Cincinnati Bearcats are next up for Marquette. Game time is at 6pm on Wednesday on ESPN . Cincy just knocked off Louisville, so expect a raucous atmosphere in the Shoe.