It seems like being in the starting lineup suits Greg Elliott pretty well.
The redshirt junior guard from Michigan responded to his first start of the 2020-21 season by going for a team high 17 points along with six rebounds and a steal as Marquette easily handled Butler on Wednesday evening. MU walked away from Hinkle Fieldhouse with the 73-57 victory to snap their third three game losing streak of the season.
The biggest worry for Marquette fans in this game was how the first meeting with Butler ended. MU was up big with five minutes to play in Milwaukee earlier in the month, but still had to hope that a Jair Bolden three missed its mark at the buzzer to avoid overtime. I can’t speak for everyone, but I definitely wasn’t comfortable with things when two freebies by Theo John put Marquette up 11 at 21-10. Getting the lead to 16 at the half, 41-25 with John providing the points again, didn’t actually calm me down at all.
A big ol’ three from Jamal Cain, the guy sent to the bench in favor of Elliott, with 12:11 left in regulation made it a 54-34 ballgame.... and the voice in the back of my head was still there. “They were up 18 in the first game,” it said.
But there was no reason to worry. A layup from Bryce Golden with 7:56 to play briefly brought the margin back below 20, but Elliott answered with two free throws to get it back to 20. The lead would stay north of 20, briefly cresting as high as 28, before Butler’s walk-ons were on the court as the Bulldogs scored the final eight points of the game in the final 70 seconds.
Butler did their fair share of things to hand this game to Marquette. Not in the turnover department; the Bulldogs actually won that battle on the night. No, I mean in the fouls department. Marquette shot just 49 field goal attempts in this game partially because Butler sent the Golden Eagles to the charity stripe for 27 attempts in this game. MU knocked in 24 of their points on those free throw attempts, with Theo John (7-for-8) and Dawson Garcia (5-for-6) having the biggest impact.
As much as we can praise Greg Elliott for playing his butt off in his first start of the season, we have to acknowledge that Jamal Cain might have actually had a better night. Even though Cain came off the bench in this one, he still played 34 minutes and he finished with a 14 points 14 rebounds, two assist, two steal stat line.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FS1 and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Well, the thing to remember about this game is that it advanced Marquette’s record to 10-12 on the season and 6-10 in the Big East. This does not fix anything this year, nor is it even great news. It’s just not a loss. The good part about all of this is that the Golden Eagles now get to take the next nine days off coming after a win. They’ll be back in action on February 27th when they visit Connecticut. I suppose it’s possible that there could be a late addition to the schedule, as technically Marquette still has a game against Georgetown to make up from earlier in the season. I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.