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Evaporation In Progress: #22 Butler 68, Marquette 65

Hey, remember when we were excited about the Golden Eagles going 5-3 in the first 8 league games?

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Marquette
Hey, look, kids, Andrew Chrabascz getting free for an easy bucket again.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The hits just keep on coming for Marquette men’s basketball, as they dropped their third loss in their last four games, losing 68-65 to #22 Butler on Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles are now 6-6 in Big East action after starting off a shocking 5-3 against an incredibly difficult schedule. MU has just one win since upsetting top ranked Villanova on January 24th, and that came against DePaul, the clear cut worst team in the conference.

By the end of 40 minutes, the game resembled a tightly contested affair, with Butler winning by only three points, and the argument can be made that it was a quality defensive performance by the Golden Eagles, because the Bulldogs only scored ever so slightly more than a point per possession. Quality defense is something that has been lacking time and time again for MU this season, and if this is one of their best performances, than so be it. But Andrew Chrabascz had a game high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 13 in the second half and 11 of them coming after Marquette had taken their first lead of the game with 10:33 left to play. For the game, the Bulldogs shot 43% from behind the three-point arc, getting 27 of their 68 points on long range bombs, and most of those came on corner threes that were open time and time and time again. I struggle to call any of this a positive effort playing defense.

I get it. No one’s going to confuse what Marquette did on offense on Tuesday night as a good performance. Sure, the three-point shooting was solid at 38%, powered by a 5-of-8 night from Markus Howard. There’s also Luke Fischer’s night, going for 19 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, four blocks, and a steal. But MU shot just 43% overall, and that’s not going to get it done. They committed 14 turnovers, seven in each half, and it definitely feels like seven of them came on passes that were whistled into the lane at a cutter but ended up essentially hitting an unprepared Bulldog defender in the chest for the easy take away.

Yes, Marquette rallied in the second half to briefly take a two point lead before letting the game fumble away from them down the stretch. They also let Butler turn a tie game into an 11 point lead in merely three minutes in the first half with Kelan Martin, their leading scorer and rebounder, nailed to the bench for reasons that BU head coach Chris Holtmann is unwilling to discuss. (Aside: if you’re going to bench your leading scorer and rebounder for the entire first half and then only give him 10 minutes of burn in the second half, you should probably have a better answer than “I don’t want to elaborate” when asked if it was a disciplinary issue.) If you want to get excited about a rally that fell apart late, hey, good for you. It probably shouldn’t have come to that in the first place.

Up Next: The Golden Eagles are off to DC to face Georgetown on Saturday. With just six league games remaining and what appears to be an inability to feel comfortable with any game as “winnable,” it would be in MU’s interest to thrash the Hoyas very badly to salvage a 1-1 week.