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The Sure & The Why Not: Providence 72, Marquette 63 (OT)

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The game was ugly but that didn’t help the Golden Eagles avoid their sixth loss in Big East play

Providence v Xavier Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

In a refreshing change of pace from Saturday night, Marquette men’s basketball lost a game where they were not favored to win. David Duke made four of his eight long range attempts in the game to finish with 31 points and shove his Providence Friars to the 72-63 overtime victory over the Golden Eagles on Wednesday night. Marquette is now 8-8 on the year and 4-6 in Big East action.

Let’s be honest about what this game was: Awful. There’s no other way to describe a game that is sitting at 25-18 at the half. Both teams were under 0.80 points per possession through the first 20 minutes, and quite honestly, it was a real problem that Marquette was the team that was down seven with that few points on the board in total. Not being able to take advantage of the Friars when they were awful is a big contributing factor to Marquette taking the loss here.

The scoring pace picked up after halftime, but the Golden Eagles were still chugging along behind Providence. It qualifies as a competitive game — not good, just competitive — so there’s that at least. No one was particularly happy about how it was going, though.

Marquette finally pulled ahead on a Koby McEwen bucket with 12:07 left in regulation, and by “pulled ahead,” I mean “reached 36 points before Providence did.” The two sides traded the lead around for a bit before the Friars went back out in front by six, 44-38. Two free throws from Duke made it six again at 49-43 with under eight to play, and given how things had otherwise gone, it wasn’t looking great for Marquette.

But back came the Golden Eagles. A layup from Greg Elliott here, a layup from Justin Lewis there, a pair of freebies from D.J. Carton over there. MU would eventually score seven straight to take a 54-51 lead with 4:57 to go and prompt a timeout from PC head coach Ed Cooley.

Hey, maybe Marquette finally figured themselves and Providence out and they are motivated by the ugly loss to DePaul on Saturday.

Nope!

The Friars scored the next six points and things were slipping away.... but this game was bad, so they didn’t slip that far. Carton scored with two minutes to go, and after a bad pass between Carton and John gave the Friars the ball, John got a dunk on MU’s next possession to knot it up at 59 all with 50 seconds left.

Duke missed a jumper out of a timeout, Jimmy Nichols missed on a follow up attempt, and all of a sudden it was Marquette’s ball with 23 seconds to go. Tie game. One shot to win. Here we go.

D.J. Carton drove to the free throw line and awkwardly passed to Koby McEwen who tried to drive to get an open look but fell to the ground and called timeout. It sucked. There’s no nice way to say it. After a timeout with 0.8 seconds left, the inbounds went to Greg Elliott for a three to win at the buzzer...... but it hit nothing but air.

Five fresh minutes went back up on the clock... and both teams forgot how to score again.

It took nearly two minutes for a field goal to shake the net, and that was a three-pointer by Duke to put the home team up four. Two dunks by Carton made it interesting, but Alyn Breed and his 55% three-point shooting percentage on the season got left open in the corner while MU paid attention to Duke, and exactly what you think would happen actually happened with 35 seconds left and that was that.

Wanna hear a funny story?

Marquette outshot Providence in this game, 47% to 35%. Flip it up to effective field goal percentage, and it’s 50% to 40.5%. The difference, of course, is that the Friars went 7-for-24 from long range, while Marquette went 3-for-16. Neither one is good, of course, but MU’s number is actively bad. Tack on Marquette’s usual refusal to do anything about turnovers on either end of the court, and you get a bunch of wasted possessions by the Golden Eagles (21% to be precise) along with a 10 field goal attempt differential favoring Providence. You can overcome shooting it worse than the other team just by shooting it more, and that helped Providence win this game.

Koby McEwen’s 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting led MU in scoring on the day. D.J. Carton had 12 on 5-for-10 shooting including those big dunks late, while Justin Lewis also came off the bench to add 12 points.

Up Next: Does it matter? Not for the NCAA tournament it doesn’t, but it’s still on the schedule. Marquette isn’t scheduled to play again until February 2nd, when they’re supposed to host Butler. However, a referee from Tuesday night’s UConn-Butler game tested positive for COVID after the game and UConn has already hit pause on team activities. It’s possible that the Bulldogs are about to go into a pandemic pause and postpone next week Tuesday’s game..... but we’ll see, I guess. Next game after that is set to be Creighton in Milwaukee on February 6th.