I went to Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night thinking that if Marquette played up to their potential, they could give #5 ranked Baylor a pretty entertaining basketball contest in the opening salvo of the yearly Big East/Big 12 Battle.
They, uh, decided to surpass that.
Your final from Milwaukee: Marquette 96, #6 Baylor 70, and uh, it was not that close.
Let’s just get into it, and by into it, I mean exactly how Marquette was into Baylor’s entire deal. It was a nice little start to a basketball game, tilting in the favor of the visitors 7-2 in the first four minutes. Nothing problematic from Marquette on either end, just enough of a shot from the Bears to make you start thinking “okay, time to respond, lads.”
That was the end of anything nice happening for Baylor.
Stevie Mitchell answered a bucket from Adam Flagler to make it 7-4, and then Mitchell found Oso Ighodaro for a dunk the next time down the court, 7-6 Baylor. On the ensuing possession, Baylor coughed it up for their second turnover of the game.
Over the next nearly five minutes, the Bears would turn it over six more times for a total of eight in the game at the 10:43 mark..... and Marquette was on a 23-2 run.
Yeah, it was 25-9 at that point, and things were juuuuust about completely off the chain, both for Baylor and for the mindset of the crowd at Fiserv Forum.
There was a a little bit of bucket trading at that point, just enough to make you say, “Hey, look, they’re ranked #6, they’re going to fight back.” David Joplin answered a three from Flagler to make it 30-14...... and that was the start of a 10-0 run by the Golden Eagles.... and it was only powered by one turnover by Baylor. 37-14 Marquette after a triple from Kam Jones.
Ben Gold put in a nifty layup on the other end after erasing a Keyonte George layup that sadly did not go as a block because Jones got called for a blocking foul, and the lead hit 24 with 6:58 to go. Baylor got their act together for a minute. Langston Love hit a three, and if I remember correctly, that was the “hit the rim, go waaaay up in the air and then fall through” triple. 41 seconds later, George hit a three of his own, and the lead was down to 18. This was perhaps the last moment where the game truly felt at risk, and if not there, then when Marquette got two offensive rebounds but couldn’t put a bucket down to answer George on the other end.
Welcome back to the turnover parade, Baylor! Over the final 4:30, the Bears coughed it up another seven times. 10-2 run by the Golden Eagles to close the half, including a pair of threes, one each from Joplin and Jones, in the final 42 seconds on either side of a Caleb Lohner layup.
51-25 at the break. Marquette scored 1.46 points per possession in the first half, and thanks to all those turnovers, they allowed just 0.71/possession to the Bears.
Marquette opened up the second half with a 26 point lead. LJ Cryer scored the first points of the second half to make it a 24 point game. They got it to 23 with 15:47 left and 10:49 left. Somewhere in there, Shaka Smart called a timeout because Baylor kept scoring on every possession, but uh, the lead wasn’t changing either. A three from Flagler cut the margin to 22 with 10:12 to play, and Love answered OMax Prosper to bring it back to 22 with 9:30 to go.
That’s the closest that Baylor got for the entire second half. A 9-3 burst answered Love to push the margin back to 28. Cryer cashed a three to get it back to 23 with 5:01 to go, and MU responded with an 11-2 run and it was, officially, Chase Ross hitting a pair of freebies in there to get the lead to 30 for the first time in the game with 1:52 to play.
You know who was an absolute assassin in this game? Olivier-Maxence Prosper. 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-4 from the arc, 5 rebounds, and a steal in 27 minutes. An absolute machine, and he may have been personally responsible for demoralizing Baylor after treating Flo Thamba like a turnstile in the first half. Kam Jones was superb here, getting 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting and 4-for-7 behind the arc, and he added four assists, a block, and two steals. Just saying it doesn’t explain it, as every mild critique of his play that Shaka Smart has offered up in the last couple of weeks was apparently taken into consideration in this game and he played exactly how you would want him to play in every single game for the rest of his MU tenure. Oso Ighodaro had 10 points and seven rebounds, plus two assists and two blocks. Tyler Kolek dished 11 assists, and honestly, he should have had more because I was cackling about how he was already over his #2 in the country average loooooong before this one was over. David Joplin had 19 points off the bench, going 6-for-7 overall and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.
My god, I could just keep going complimenting every single guy on this roster because every single guy had something good to contribute along the way.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: Can I interest you in a sold out game at home against Wisconsin? That’s coming up on Saturday, and yes, MU announced on Tuesday afternoon that the game was sold out. Tipoff is set for 3:30pm Central on FS1 for those of you who don’t already have tickets. IMPORTANT PLANNING NOTE: The United States men’s national soccer team is playing Netherlands in the Sweet 16 of the World Cup on Saturday, with that match starting at 9am Central time. There’s a match scheduled for 1pm Central time that day as well, so if you’re picking an establishment to visit to watch the MU/UW game, take all of that into account, not to mention the college football championship games.