After giving the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans all they could handle for 20 minutes, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles ran out of gas in the second half and dropped a slightly disappointing but not at all discouraging 79-68 decision in the semifinals of the Orlando Classic.
Let's get to the most important news of the night first: when it comes to filling out a polo and a pair of slacks, Steve Wojciechowski kicks Tom "I Look Like I'm Wearing My Older Brother's Hand-Me-Downs" Izzo's ass.
Anyway, about the less important stuff: Marquette was primed and ready to go at the opening tip, punishing MSU in the paint (how? we're not exactly sure) and running out to a quick 9-4 lead. The Spartans were keyed in on Matt Carlino from the start, and -- wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles -- Carlino didn't force things, stuffing the stat sheet with 6 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists in the opening half. As per usual, Marquette's defense left something to be desired, as Michigan State blistered Marquette to the tune of 69% eFG% in the first half, but MU forced 10 turnovers and didn't back down after getting smacked in the mouth time and again by the bigger, more talented Spartans.
The second half went more according to script. Michigan State couldn't miss in the first 10 minutes of the half, hitting six 3-pointers (with Denzel Valentine doing the lion's share of the damage on his way to a game-high 25 points) and erupting for a 16-point advantage midway through the second half. Still, Marquette wouldn't go quietly, with Duane Wilson attacking the paint and converting in transition en route to a team-high 15 points. But though the Golden Eagles trimmed the margin to single digits a handful of times, they didn't have quite enough to get over the hump. No shame in that, though, and if it was up to me, all our boys would be getting Frontierland Turkey Legs on the house.
In other notes: Steve Taylor turned in a fine outing with 10 points and 7 boards, Deonte Burton had 10 of his own and generally played under control, and Derrick Wilson made 3 free throws.
Also Dick Vitale talked about Al McGuire a lot. Which is fine, of course, except for the part where there was a basketball game going on.
With the loss, Marquette is relegated to the third-place game in the Orlando Classic. If I'm reading this schedule correctly, that means MU tangles with Tennessee at 3:00 p.m. CST on Sunday.
Until then, enjoy your hot dogs.