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The Quick & The Dirty: Butler 94, Marquette 83

Road games are a bear. or a bulldog. Whatever.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Butler
Feels metaphorically accurate.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette did not show up to play at all today. Well, not at all, because Sam Hauser played about as well as a player could, tying a career high 30 points on 11/17 shooting. The final score of tonight’s contest, 94-83, does not do justice to how badly Marquette was dominated.

Marquette opened rather unspectacularly but held a 22-20 lead with 9 minutes to go in the first half, however, Butler proceeded to mash Marquette in the lane for the next 7 minutes and open up a 42-28 lead. Marquette was injected with a shot of adrenaline with 1:54 left in the half with #TheThing by Andrew Rowsey and managed to cut the lead down to 6 before halftime. The first half was essentially a bunch of ugly basketball ended by a great little run to cut down a lead that was about to border on insurmountable if the bleeding was not stopped. At the end of the first half, there was some hope for Marquette. Markus Howard, who had picked up his second foul for the heinous act of getting elbowed right in the face, was held scoreless and we all know you can’t keep him down for an entire game. Overall, down 6 and waiting for a Markus Howard breakout is not the worst place in the world to be considering how the first half went.

The second half opened similarly to the first, trading baskets without either team really gaining an edge until at around the 15 minute mark when Marquette started making a few more shots that resulted in a tie game at 56 with 13 minutes remaining. Just after Marquette slowly grinded themselves back into the game, they let loose a barrage of threes from Sam Hauser and Greg Elliott that opened up a 67-60 lead in a heartbeat. At this point, it seemed that Marquette had flipped a switch and was now going to play good basketball and finish out Butler on the road.

They didn’t.

Marquette gave the lead back as soon as they possibly could by giving up an and-1 to Kelan Martin, Harry Froling missing a layup that could only be described as a gimmie, Sean McDermott making a layup, and finally Kelan Martin splashing a three. Marquette went from up 7 to down 1 in literally under a minute.

From that point forth, Marquette decided to fully give up on playing defense and allowed Kelan Martin to put up 20 (!) points over the last 10 (!) minutes of the game. Marquette made any sort of comeback unsuccessful with a combination of bad shots and missed free throws. Boom. From up seven with 10 minutes to go to getting blown out, relatively speaking, just like that. The final score of 94-83 does not do justice to how the game was played. Butler was the better team for a vast majority of the game and showed Marquette that a solid all around performance beats 3.5 minutes of really hot shooting.

Now that I have finished the anger phase of dealing with the loss, I am going to move on to bargaining. Even though our defensive performance was located somewhere between a 1-2 on a scale to 100, I am not sure if anyone was stopping Kelan Martin tonight. Martin was a 30% three point shooter on the season before tonight and managed to make four out of his six attempts. Seems good. I can understand why head coach Steve Wojciechowski and company were okay with letting him shoot those. Although I would have preferred switching lineups/schemes around so he couldn’t simply bully Greg Elliott after we switch on a handoff, but moving on. Hey! Theo John hit a jump shot tonight and only tried to break the backboard with a hook shot once, that’s good right? Sam Hauser’s midrange game was reminiscent of a younger and shorter Dirk Nowitzki (and I looked up the last name Hauser and according to the internet, it’s German, so we got that going for us, which is nice).

Overall this game was frustrating. We played poorly in the first half but managed to keep it close. After our run in the second half, I really thought that we were going to steal one at Hinkle finally, but the team who was better for nearly the whole game managed to prevail. With that, I am done and going to go watch the Bucks inexplicably hang around with the much more talented and better coached Warriors.