About that "Luke Fischer isn't going to be the Messiah" thing ...
Riding a debut that can probably be conservatively termed as "beyond our wildest dreams," YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles took home a 78-71 victory over the Sun Devils of Arizona State tonight on the strength of Fischer's 19-point (9-11 from the field), 9-rebound, 5-block performance, and plenty of help from Duane Wilson, Jajuan Johnson, and Juan Anderson.
This was, in a word, fun.
After managing all of 38 points against Wisconsin 10 days ago, Marquette eclipsed that number by the end of the first half in tonight's contest. Fischer's first appearance seemed to infuse the team with a level of juice we've yet to see this season, and buoyed by a frenetic defense that forced 10 first-half ASU turnovers, MU took a 43-32 lead at the break. Fischer was an anchor in the paint on the defensive end and showed a nifty array of moves on the offensive end, finishing the half with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Jajuan Johnson threw in 12 points of his own, and Duane Wilson had 11.
But as impressive as Fischer's start was, and as dynamic as Duane Wilson looked attacking the rim, the story of the first half was Juan Anderson, who put up 5 points and 3 rebounds but, most importantly, tallied seven (all the exclamation points) assists in the opening 20 minutes (and Marquette, for the half, had an astounding 17 assists on 19 field goals). He was feeding the post, he was finding men on the break, he worked a couple of backdoor cuts like he'd been schooled in Princeton's system for four years. Juan, as Bill Raftery put it in the waning moments of the first half, was a man possessed, and I will immediately sign up if we can get 60% of that effort going forward.
It was more of the same in the second half, as Fischer got the ball in the paint on a pretty feed on Marquette's first possession to stretch the lead to 13, and Marquette didn't look back from there. Duane Wilson continued his relentless assault on the tin on his way to 19 points (and it would've been more if not for a shaky 9-17 showing from the free throw line), Jajuan chipped in 10 second-half points to finish with 22, and Fischer's fanbase continued to balloon as the big man notched 9 more points, plus a couple boards and another block.
Things were bordering on "getting out of hand" territory when Fischer's dunk staked MU to a 60-39 lead with 10 minutes and change left in the game, but a flurry of late 3-pointers and some questionable late-game ball-handling from Marquette trimmed the final line to 7. Still: this was awesome and infinitely more enjoyable than last weekend's root-canal-without-Novocaine fest against the Badgers.
Also Coach Wojo got a T in the first half when the officials missed (roughly) 4 consecutive traveling calls against the Sun Devils, and for a second there, when he ripped off his suit coat and had to be restrained by a gaggle of assistant coaches, it looked he was going to Hulk out. He did not, but we're only in Game 9. He'll get there.
Until tomorrow, then, this is your post-game jubilation thread.