Have we ever said "welcome to the Derrick Wilson Show" in the space before?
Well, there's a first time for everything, and Marquette's senior point guard was certainly worthy of that compliment tonight, as he carried what appeared to be an unwilling crew to a hard-earned 67-54 victory over a game (but mascot-less) North Dakota squad at the Bradley Center.
On the heels of the demolition at the Al McGuire Center last Friday, YOUR Golden Eagles came out sleepwalking today. For the first 15 minutes of the opening half, outside of Steve Taylor dominating on the offensive glass, Marquette couldn't do anything right. Duane Wilson and Juan Anderson each started 1-5 from the floor, Luke Fischer showed signs of being mortal for the first time as the big man missed his first three field goal attempts, and Taylor couldn't convert any of his offensive boards into points, as he started a frigid 1-6 from the free throw line. But after Estan Tyler's 3-pointer gave the Nameless a 20-12 lead, Marquette roared back with an 11-1 run to take a 23-21 advantage on Jajuan Johnson's triple from the corner with 4 minutes to go in the half. A couple of bad passes from Fischer gifted the lead back to UND, though, and MU found itself down 29-24 at the break.
The second half didn't start a whole lot better: after a quick three-point play from Matt Carlino (who turned in another shaky outing with 9 points, 3 rebounds, an assist and four turnovers) drew MU within 2, the Anonymous Dakotans responded with a couple of dunks from Jaron Nash and another 3 from Tyler to stretch the margin to four. But with everyone save for Jajuan Johnson (a game-high 19 points, 3 steals) flailing around him, the always-steady Derrick Wilson came to the rescue. Tenaciously attacking the rim, snaring three offensive rebounds, clamping down on Tyler in the last 10 minutes, even rattling home a deep 3 with a minute to go (and earning effusive praise from Dickey Simpkins at every step along the way), De. Wilson was the man of the match with an impressive 15-9-6 line, with just one turnover.
Fueled by Wilson's impressive showing, Marquette ripped off a 17-5 run after finding itself down 39-38 with 11 minutes to play. Carlino's transition 3-pointer boosted MU to a 55-44 advantage with 6 minutes and change left and made the rest of the proceedings academic, and Coach Wojo doesn't have to go to bed mad. (Related: Coach Wojo looked mad--like "kid pooped on the floor with polite company over" mad--for most the game. It's almost Christmas, Coach. Have a peanut blossom and smile.)
With the win, Marquette improves to 7-4 on the young season, which, if you're telling the truth, is all you wanted for Christmas anyway.
Until we see you after the Navidad, then, this is your post-game jubilation thread.