Up... down. Up... down. Up... down. Up... down. Up... down. Up... down. Up.....
That is the way the last 13 games had gone for YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles. They needed desperately to reverse that trend, as they headed to New Jersey to take on the recently plucky Seton Hall Pirates.
In a completely maddening first half, Marquette opened up HOT. They forced The Hall into 7 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game, and cashed that in for an early 12 point lead. But before you could say "damn we're playing pretty well tonight," the tides had turned and suddenly it was the Golden Eagles throwing the ball away. Seton Hall then took those turnovers and did what they do - drain 3s. The #2 team in the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage began pouring in triples at about a 60% clip, and soon the MU lead had evaporated.
Marquette continued to get their points, but they were unable to cool off The Hall's hot shooting. By the 13 minute mark, the Pirates had extended their lead to 5 and it looked like MU was entering a zone of danger.
Luckily, the Golden Eagles were game. With about 9 minutes remaining, Patrick Auda gave The Hall their largest lead of the game, at 56-50. Marquette responded with an 11-0 run to vault back into the lead. Lock down defense, and an offense fueled by a steady diet of offensive boards and free throws, would be enough to allow MU to bring this one safely across the finish line.
Unlike the last time these two teams met, Marquette was able to finish strong and break the vicious "win, loss" cycle they had been on since mid-December.
Two in a row! I feel like Lou Brown!
- Jamil Wilson played like an absolute stud in this game. He carried the MU attack early, with some lethal outside shooting, and then went to work around the rim to help put the game away late. He ended up with a career high 25 points, on 8-14 shooting (4-5 from distance!). And while the scoring was awesome, it was the way he attacked the glass that most impressed me. He tore down 10 rebounds on the night, and looked dominant while he was doing it. Buzz said that this was Jamil's best game at Marquette. I'm not sure how one could argue.
- For a while, this game had the feel of the Villanova game - we can score today, but we might not be able to get enough stops to win. Fortunately the defense stepped up over the last 9 minutes. The Hall made just 4 FGs in that span, and had one stretch of 5 straight empty possessions.
- Marquette had a huge advantage on the offensive glass. They grabbed 12 offensive boards, to just 3 by Seton Hall. And a lot of those led directly to points.
- While the defense good and the rebounding impressive, the game was really won at the free throw line. Marquette DOMINATED the game from the charity stripe. They went 30-34(!) from the line, while Seton Hall made just 8 of 14.
- You want to talk rotation? Of course you do! Coach Buzz went back to the old familiar starting lineup of J. Wilson, D. Wilson, Otule, Anderson and Thomas. Each of those guys, along with Mayo and Gardner, played 20 minutes or more. Jamil and Jake Thomas led the way with 35 and 34 minutes respectively.
- If you were curious about the freshmen: Dawson played 9 minutes, almost entirely in the first half while Derrick sat with fouls. Burton played 6 forgettable minutes (0-3 shooting, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 1 rebound). And Johnson apparently played 1 minute, but I can neither confirm nor deny that report.
- Steve Taylor, DNP.
- From the Oddities Department: Down by 6, with 2:04 to play, Seton Hall became the first team that I can recall employing the "Hack-a-Derrick" strategy, to try to get back in the game. And, I mean, who could blame them? The kid shoots 47%. Naturally, after being fouled intentionally because of his poor free throw shooting, Derrick goes to the line and drains 'em both. Who would've thought.
Jae Crowder Player of the Year of the Game: The other day, when I saw the Paint Touches post called "Can Jamil Wilson Push Marquette to March Madness," my first reaction was "HA! Nope." But, if he's going to play like he played on Tuesday, then the answer just might be "maybe."
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Todd Mayo did not have a great night shooting the ball. He was just 1-6 from the field. However, he made 9 of 10 free throws and grabbed 6 rebounds - including one HUGE offensive board, that he converted for a bucket. For this workman-like effort, Todd gets the Fulce today.
Davante "Big Smoove" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: Easy call here. With the game tied at 56, Mayo corralled a defensive rebound and aggressively pushed the ball up the floor. It was initially 2 on 2, with Todd and Jake Thomas. But Jamil Wilson hustled back to jump into the break, on Todd's left, and create a 3 on 2 situation. Watching on TV, you could see that Jamil was the man to get the ball, but you weren't quite sure if Todd even knew he was there. But he knew. Todd went behind the back to Jamil, who went up strong for the basket AND the foul! After the free throw, MU went ahead 59-56 and didn't trail again.
Up Next: It's NATIONAL MARQUETTE DAY, and Marquette plays host to Xavier. This game provides the Golden Eagles an opportunity to pick up another win against an RPI Top 50 opponent (That's right I said "another", GW currently has an RPI of 27. Go Colonials!), as well as the opportunity to move into 3rd place in the Big East, and the chance to avenge the earlier loss to Xavier, down in Ohio. So yeah, it's kind of a big game, and expect to see ALL of you at the Bradley Center this Saturday!
Don't Forget: Tip time for Saturday's game was moved to 3:00pm CST. If you have a printed ticket that says 5:00, it is lying to you.