Did everyone enjoy The Tyler Polley Show?
UConn immediately ripped off a 23-4 run on their way to a 40-11 run to close the game and walk away from their first ever visit to Fiserv Forum with a 65-54 victory. Marquette is now 6-6 on the season and 2-4 in Big East play.
The story of the collapse is two-fold, I think. #1) James Bouknight, an obvious leading candidate for Big East Player of the Year, was practically invisible in the game, finishing with just six points on 3-for-12 shooting, largely due to the fact that Koby McEwen landed on his arm while diving for a loose ball and hyperextended it in the first half. #2) Tyler Polley was a white hot grease fire of pure entertainment.... at least for Connecticut fans. He finished with a game high 23 points, getting all 23 in the second half. I don’t have a split box for you, so I can’t tell you what he actually shot after halftime. However, Polley finished 8-for-12 from the field in the game and 5-for-8 from behind the three-point line, cashing big three after big three to completely wreck Marquette’s day.
Marquette was up big because they played just fine while UConn was terrible in the first half, and then scooted away from the Huskies early in the second half. Then Marquette stopped being able to throw a baseball in the ocean. The Golden Eagles shot just 30.8% from the field in the second half, and that includes jumping out to a 10-0 start in the first four-plus minutes. When UConn suddenly went white hot — and we can debate whether that was Marquette being terrible at defense or the universe just balancing out the Huskies’ 33% shooting from the first half — Marquette couldn’t answer with anything. I’m not even sure that Connecticut was doing anything particularly fancy on defense. It seems clear that UConn head coach Dan Hurley made adjustments that messed up MU’s rhythm..... but also they just couldn’t put the ball in the basket to even pretend to try to stop Connecticut’s run.
We can’t wrap up this recap without pointing out that this is the exact inverse of what Marquette did against Georgetown last time out. Marquette had an awful first half and trailed by 18 early after intermission before powering ahead and winning by four. This time, it was an 18 point lead that got chewed up and spit out thanks to an atrocious second half before suffering an 11 point loss. There’s a good 40 minutes of basketball in the last 80 minutes and also a very terrible 40 minutes of basketball. But that’s kind of the story of Marquette overall this season. Two top 10 wins, but also crap like this. If you can make heads or tails of it, please, honestly, let me know, because we’re way beyond my ability to try to explain it other than “they are consistently inconsistent, and that’s just how it is.
Up Next: Friday’s scheduled trip to Philadelphia is postponed due to a COVID issue with Villanova. That means that Steve Wojciechowski has until next week Tuesday to figure out what the hell is going on with his team. On January 12th, Marquette will host Providence. The Friars are currently 7-4 on the year and 3-2 in the Big East, and they’ll play Xavier on the road on Sunday before winging their way up to Milwaukee.