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A Tale Of Two Halves: Marquette 83, Jackson State 54

It’s an old trope, but when it’s true like it was on Tuesday night, you have to point it out.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
Mr. Double-Double.
MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

Backed by a first ever career double-double for Oso Ighodaro, Marquette men’s basketball coasted to an 83-54 victory over Jackson State on Tuesday night to raise their record to 7-1 on the season.

Or did they?

Everything about that 29 point final margin says Marquette handled the Tigers easily.

That could not be further from the truth.

When the halftime horn sounded, the referees converged on the scorer’s table to review a last second three-pointer by Justin Lewis. Live, to my eyes, it looked like he did not get it off in time. The slo-mo replay agreed with my version of events, it was waved off, and so, the Golden Eagles went into the half tied with Jackson State at 29 points each.

29 points. For both teams. In 20 minutes of basketball.

It was not what you would call attractive basketball, with both teams assembling an effective field goal percentage below 45%. Somehow, Marquette actually looked like the worse team, although a lot of that has to do with the five hilariously awful shot attempts that turned into blocks by JSU, three of them by Jayveous McKinnis.

And so, the two teams went to their respective locker rooms for a break, and then they returned to resume the game. Apparently, at some point in the interim, Marquette guard Darryl Morsell decided that he had seen absolutely damn enough of all of this.

Morsell scored on MU’s first possession, then drained a three on the third, then got a bucket to fall through contact that wasn’t called in transition after a steal by Kam Jones.

Seven points for the grad transfer from Maryland, all in just a titch over 90 seconds of action, and suddenly Marquette was up seven, 36-29.

This was the spark the Golden Eagles needed. A dunk from Oso Ighodaro with 16:42 pushed the lead into double digits at 43-42, and a bucket from the sophomore about two minutes later staked Marquette to a double digit lead that they would never relinquish again. Olivier-Maxence Prosper, coming off the bench for the first time this season, came up with a steal and a dunk with 11 and change left to make the lead 20, 56-36, and a basket from Kam Jones with 8:08 left to go pushed the lead north of 20 points for good.

How did MU do this? The simplest way possible: They hit more shots. Marquette shot just 39% from the field in the first half. Second half? A whopping 65.5% from the field and an absurd 50% from behind the three-point line. Meanwhile, on the other end, the Golden Eagles turned up the defensive heat to hold Jackson State to just 25% shooting in the second half and nearly doubled up their turnover count from the first half, 13 to 7.

It’s probably too much to expect Marquette to shoot like that and also defend like that on a nightly basis. But that was 20 minutes of basketball that was very much exactly what Shaka Smart wants to see his team do night in and night out.

Your leading scorer in the entire game is also Marquette’s leading rebounder on the night. Oso Ighodaro contributed 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field performance and 11 rebounds while playing 20 minutes off the bench in this game. That’s the first ever career double-double for the sophomore forward from Chandler, Arizona. He also kind of had to come up big as Kur Kuath missed a stretch right after halftime after a collision in the lane. After ballfaking his double-team into the air early in the second half, the defenders came down with unattended force and joints, and something hit Kuath on the way down. He was busted open enough to the point where he needed stitches, and Ighodaro had to play in his stead.

The wild part about the whole deal? Kuath was back in the game before the 10 minute mark of the half, and he chipped in four points and three blocks before signing off for the night.

We also have to give a shoutout to Kam Jones, who made his first career start tonight. The freshman from Tennessee had eight points, two rebounds, and five assists in 24 minutes of action.

How about some highlights, courtesy of CBS Sports Network and GoMarquette.com?

Up Next: All manner of things, to be honest. The Golden Eagles have nothing but Major Seven opponents for the entire rest of the year. The next contest is MU’s first road game of the season: at Wisconsin. That one is coming at you on Fox, as in the broadcast channel, with first tip on Saturday set for 11:30am Central Time. The Badgers will make a trip to Georgia Tech on Wednesday before the Golden Eagles make their way to the unwelcome confines of the Kohl Center.