To say that Marquette fans were concerned about Monday night's road match-up with Arizona State, would probably be one of the bigger understatements that you've heard lately. After the debacle against Ohio State, the lackluster performance against New Hampshire, and after having recently seen ASU's Jahii Carson blitz UNLV for 40 points, there was much concern in Golden Eagle Land about whether or not MU would have enough offense to keep pace with the Sun Devils in Tempe. Oh, and did we mention that Todd Mayo (and his team leading 13.8ppg) would be missing the game with a sprained ankle? There was that too.
Early on, it looked like that concern was incredibly well founded. ASU was draining 3s before the finished introducing the starting lineups. Carson and friends drained their first four 3-point attempts, and were off and running early. It looked like our worst fears were going to be coming true tonight and this one was going to get ugly.
Arizona State extended their lead to 15 mid-way through the first half, before Carson picked up his second personal foul. Having built a substantial lead, Herb Sendek saw fit to sit his superstar down for the remainder of the half. This helped slow the Sun Devils' attack down just enough, that Marquette was able to reel things back in a little bit. Led by the offense of Derrick Wilson (yes, THAT Derrick Wilson) and a spark off the bench from Jajuan Johnson, MU was able to trim the lead to 10 before the half. Not close enough to give us real hope, but close enough to keep us from changing the channel.
In the second half, someone put a quarter in Jake Thomas (yes, THAT Jake Thomas). Thomas had himself a half of shooting that was near Novakian. He drained 5 of 9 triples in the second half and helped spur a Marquette run that cut the deficit down to 4 by the 14 minute mark.
From there the two teams traded blows for the remainder of the half. Marquette was within a basket or two for almost the entire last 14 minutes of the game, but could never quite get over the hump. They took a brief one point lead in the final minutes, but ASU took it right back.
MU had its chances to steal it at the end. With the ball, down by 1, and with the shot clock basically off, Marquette was unable to get to the shot they wanted, out of the timeout. They ended up settling for a Jake Thomas 20-footer that went begging. They then fouled Jermaine Marshall, who made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Golden Eagles one last chance. With 7 seconds left, out of timeouts, MU was able to corral the missed FT and Derrick Wilson rushed the ball to the rim. Unfortunately, there he ran into the 7'2" Canadian, Jordan Bachynski. That large gentleman rejected Derrick's bid to force overtime and MU's comeback effort fell just short.
- Seriously guys, Derrick Wilson scored actual baskets. He actually had more shots that went in than got swatted (though the one swat came at a most inopportune time). Derrick made 5 of 9 shots, (no jumpers, but you already knew that) and made 4 of 7 free throws for a total 14 points. He also handed out 7 assists and ZERO turnovers. That, my friends, is serviceable point guard play. I'm so impressed by Monday's performance, that I'm declaring a moratorium on all ragging on Derrick Wilson for the next two days. So save your D-Wil smack for Thursday, because we're not accepting any until then.
- Davante Gardner had himself a fine evening as well. The Big Smooth Ox, scored a team high 18 points, grabbed a team high 12 boards - his first double-double of the season.
- The three-point shooting made all the difference in this game. It's amazing what a benefit it is to your interior players, when defenses have to respect the threat of the outside shot. Jake Thomas' unconscious streak provided that in this game, and the things that opened up.
- Be careful of fool's gold though. Unless Jake has turned over some kind of leaf, or is going to use this game as some kind of springboard to bigger and better things, we know what he really is. And outside of Thomas, the rest of the team shot just 3 of 11 from distance. So, while this game was encouraging, I'm not ready to declare all our shooting woes cured.
- A lot of credit needs to be given to the coaching staff and the players for not allowing themselves to get run out of the gym tonight. After the first 8 minutes it was looking like that was a real possibility. Hopefully this is one to build on.
- If you want to gripe about something, feel free to have at the possession out of the last timeout. MU bled 18 of the remaining 25 seconds off the clock while trying to get a ball screen for Derrick. When that didn't work the result was a hurried Thomas jumper, fading to his left. I'm going to guess that's not the shot we were looking for there.
Jae Crowder Player of the Game: I think there has to be co-players of the game for this one. The much maligned (and rightfully so) starting backcourt of Jake Thomas and Derrick Wilson each had the game of their Marquette careers Monday. And both were instrumental in getting the Golden Eagles up off the mat and in a position to nearly steal a victory.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: In the absence of Todd Mayo, it was JaJuan Johnson that stepped up to fill the role of offense off the bench. Sure, he did some freshmany type things - looked a little lost on defense at times, jacked an ill-advised, airball, 3-pointer. But he also made big first half 3 ball, made a nice jump stop floater in the lane, and had an awesome steal that he took back for an uncontested dunk. TreyJay scored 9 points, on 4-8 shooting, in 25 minutes. He played with confidence offensively, on a team that hasn't had much of that lately. Perhaps it was his injection of confidence, that helped the rest of the offense finally get on track.
Davante "Big Smove" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: The Smooth Play of the game goes to the Arizona State chucklehead that decided to express his displeasure with the refs giving a technical foul to Jermaine Marshall, in a manner usually reserved for Central American soccer games - by lobbing debris onto the field of play. Luckily, it's ASU and not El Salvador or something, so you got a glow stick chucked on the floor instead of a lit road flare. Either way, it compounded the problem for the Sun Devils, who were assessed a second tech for the misbehavior. Davante went to the line, made 3 of 4 throws, turned a 4 point lead into a 1 point lead, and put the momentum pendulum well over onto the Marquette side of the floor. So, thanks to that dude.
Up Next: YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles stay out west to take on Cal State Fullerton, in the first round of the Wooden Legacy, this Thursday at 3:30 CST. So if you need something to watch while you devour some turkey and cranberry sauce, and you're not into that other stupid game with all the head trauma, then flip on over to ESPN2 for some Thanksgiving MU hoops. See you then!