Elgin Cook led all scorers with 15 points and Dwight Buycks missed a double-double by one assist as top seeded Golden Eagles knocked off #16 seed B1 Ballers, 94-66, in the first round of 2021’s edition of The Basketball Tournament on Sunday evening.
It was, to a certain extent, a standard issue 1 vs 16 game in a 64 team tournament setting. The Marquette alumni team spent the first quarter figuring themselves out and figuring their opponent out. That’s how you end up with the defending TBT champs trailing 20-19 after the first nine minutes were done. Business picked up in the second quarter, as the MU guys assembled a 10 point advantage across those nine minutes to lead 43-34 at the intermission.
And then Golden Eagles came out of the locker room with their hair on fire.
Buycks came up with a steal nine seconds into the second half, before the ball even crossed half-court, and a quick dish to Cook broke the ice. Cook was fouled on the layup attempt, but he hauled in his own missed free throw, things ended up in Derrick Wilson’s hands, SPLASH MOUNTAIN for three, and it’s 5-0 Golden Eagles just 21 seconds in. Timeout B1 Ballers, and that led to MU forcing a tieup after that. An offensive foul on Jamil Wilson ultimately turned into a steal by Buycks who found Maurice Acker on the wing, SPLASH, 8-0, 50 seconds in.
51-34, Golden Eagles, and there was still 8:10 left in the third.
From here, it was just a matter of playing out the string. The closest B1 Ballers got for the rest of the quarter was 14 points, and a couple of three-pointers early in the fourth pulled them within 12 of the Marquette guys at 71-59. That was answered with a 16-3 run capped by a layup from Cook, which happened to be the first bucket of the Elam Ending. Jamil Wilson hit a three, Buycks found a wide open Cook for TBT’s easiest dunk, and then it was Buycks himself capping the game off with the Elam Ender by getting to the rack and drawing contact, but still getting it to fall for the win.
Two things decided this game: How Golden Eagles shot the ball and how B1 Ballers took care of the ball. The Marquette alumni connected on their shots to the tune of a 68% effective field goal percentage, with a robust 12-for-31 from beyond the arc to propel them to victory. On the other end of the court, B1 had a nice shooting night and/or GE isn’t going to win any awards for their shooting defense. Normally, you’d say that a 58% eFG% isn’t going to get it done, and that’s probably true. However, you can get away with that when you can convince your opponent to turn it over one-quarter of the time. That’s what happened here, as the Ballers coughed it up 17 times in 36-ish minutes, which accounts for 24.6% of their possessions. 20 of Golden Eagles’ 94 points came from those 17 turnovers, and if you’re doing better than a point per possession, you’re doing pretty good.
Every single Golden Eagles player that got on the court scored at least three points in this game, as that Derrick Wilson three at the start of the third quarter accounted for his only shot of the game. In fact, Wilson was the only starter who didn’t score at least 10 points. Luke Fischer added 11 points and five rebounds off the bench, while Buycks probably had the most complete game out of anyone on the roster with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and zero turnovers.
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Up Next: Well, we know the game will be tomorrow afternoon at 3pm Central, and we know that will be on ESPN3 again, just like Sunday evening’s game. The opponent is up in the air, as Playing For Jimmy V is up 46-32 on Team Brotherly Love in the final game of the first round in the Illinois Regional with 5:42 left in the third quarter as I type this. Tune in tomorrow morning for a preview of the MU boys against whoever they get.