That, uh, is not the story of what happened in this game.
The story of what happened in this game is Marquette sitting on a field goal percentage of 11.5% during the under-4 minutes media timeout, which took place at the 3:42 mark after a turnover by Kam Jones. Your score at the time: UCLA 33, Marquette 10.
That is not a joke.
33-10. Ten total points by Marquette in 16 minutes and 18 seconds because, generally speaking, they were shooting 11.5% from the field. Not because UCLA was necessarily doing anything overtly disruptive on defense. Just because Marquette was missing shots. 23 of them to be specific, and 14 of them from behind the arc. 3-for-23 up to that point from the field, 1-for-15 from long range.
That, right there, is your ball game. Not anything that happened in the final 3:42, not anything that took place after halftime. Marquette shot themselves out of the game in the first 16 minutes and change.
Now, to be clear, it was 35-21 at the half because someone stuck a quarter in Greg Elliott during the media stoppage. The redshirt senior hit three triples down the stretch to intermission to help propel the Golden Eagles within 14 while headed to the locker room. Given that they were down 23 just minutes, seemingly seconds earlier, being down only 14 seemed pretty great.
The story of the second half was that of Marquette making it look like they were making a run and then UCLA snuffing that out. Example: Greg Elliott hits a three on MU’s second possession after halftime to pull the Golden Eagles within 11, 37-26. Johnny Juzang answers with a three of his own.
Eventually, UCLA gets the lead back to 20, specifically 22 on a three by Juzang. Marquette nudges back against the Bruins, with Kam Jones draining a three to make it a 14 point game again, this time with 9:20 to go. Olivier-Maxence Prosper scores, 13 point game, 8:04 to play.
But MU doesn’t get another field goal until OMax dunks with 3:59 to go, and that makes it a 15 point game. See? UCLA just snuffing runs out again and again and again.
Elliott hits a three, 12 point game. Free throws from the Detroit native, 11 point game, but now less than two minutes to play. They don’t really have this in them, do they?
A dunk from Justin Lewis with 47 seconds left makes it a nine point game, 56-65. What? How?
These are rhetorical questions. They don’t matter. That’s as close as Marquette gets. Free throws from Tyger Campbell make it 11, Justin Lewis misses a three, Shaka Smart elects to allow the Bruins to wind the clock out, and that’s that.
A nice half for Marquette, outscoring the #4 team in the country by three, a nice 23 minutes, really. But that’s all it was. MU never had the push they needed to really make UCLA stand up and take notice, not really, not until it was much too late. The game was long since decided on those 23 misses early on.
We can say that for certain because this was the second best defensive effort against the Bruins all season. Marquette limited them to just 1.00 points per possession in this game, and only Gonzaga kept the Bruins under 1.07 points per possession before Saturday night. This should have been a good enough defensive effort to win this game. This was a defensive effort good enough to win this game.
But the offense grotesquely let the defense down here, and that’s something that Shaka Smart and his staff are going to have to wrangle perhaps more than anyone would really like over the next 20 games.
How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of Fox Sports and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Finals week for the players, and a week off from games for both them and us. Marquette won’t be back in action until next week Saturday afternoon when Xavier comes to town for the Big East opener for both teams. Tipoff on FS1 is set for 3pm Central. Xavier moved to 9-1 on the year with an 83-63 win over Cincinnati on Saturday.