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What The Flying Hell Was That: #2 Kansas 77, Marquette 68

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The Golden Eagles gave up a 24-0 run and lost by nine. You’ll have to forgive me for not feeling particularly positive about this one.

NCAA Basketball: NIT Season Tip-Off-Marquette at Kansas Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For a few brief moments late in the first half, all was perfect in the world as Marquette harnessed the full might of their offensive capabilities to lead #2 ranked Kansas by 12, 42-30. A Sam Hauser three right before the buzzer made it 47-36 favoring the Golden Eagles, but a bucket from Marcus Garrett let the Jayhawks cut it to nine at the break officially.

As it turns out, the Garrett shot was the announcement of the end of the competitive portion of the game.

Garrett’s buzzer beater was the first two points in a — and I swear to you this is not a joke — 24-0 run by Kansas that flipped an 11 point Marquette lead at 47-36 into a 13 point Kansas lead at 60-47. While the back end of the first half may have been all of our perfect dreams about what MU hoops could look like this season, especially against a tippy top opponent like Kansas, the first nine minutes of the second half were all of our worst nightmares.

Literally nothing went right for Marquette, and they didn’t even look like the same basketball team that had built that same lead against Kansas. Part of all of that can be attributed to the return of Udoka Azubuike to the floor, as the KU big man was sidelined with two fouls for the final nine minutes of the first half. Azubuike had four points, three rebounds, and an assist as the Jayhawks made their charge, and generally changed the tenor of the game.

We can’t even take a bright spot from “well, once the run was over, Marquette played them even.” They didn’t. A trio of threes from the Hauser boys and Markus Howard trimmed the Kansas lead back down to eight with 8:25 remaining in the game. There was a flicker of life and light at that point. There was a lot of hoops left to be played, and if MU could harness something approximating their first half shooting where they went 11-of-21 from behind the arc, they still had a chance.

At least in theory.

Four minutes later, the lead was 14, and the light had flickered out. Sure, the final margin was only nine, but that’s really only because of a dunk from Theo John with 22 seconds remaining. It doesn’t tell you the story of what happened here, and that story is “Marquette rolled over and played dead for nine minutes and threw away a season defining neutral court win that was just sitting in their hands waiting to be claimed.”

This sucks.

Sam Hauser led Marquette with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-13 from behind the arc, and he added six rebounds and an assist as well. Markus Howard was wildly inefficient and veering straight on over into damaging on the night, going 6-for-23 overall and 4-of-11 from behind the arc to finish with 18 points. He did have three rebounds and six assists, but his shot decisions were .... well, we’ll say very weird at times and just move on. Joseph Chartouny continued his run of strong play after the big showing late against Presbyterian on Saturday. He only had three points, coming all on a triple in the first half, but he dished out eight assists.

Up Next: Marquette will spend Thanksgiving (presumably) running sprints somewhere in the New York City area, and then they’ll return to Barclays Center on Friday to tangle with Louisville in the Preseason NIT Tip Off consolation game. The Cardinals dropped a 92-81 decision to #5 Tennessee in the first game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader.