Well, dang, that was a basketball game.
After a high scoring first half, neither #25 ranked Marquette nor #12 ranked Xavier were able to keep that torrid pace going for 40 minutes, but it was the X-Men finding a way to victory, 80-76, on Sunday afternoon. The loss drops Marquette to 14-5 overall and 6-2 in Big East action, which has them in third place. Xavier is now 15-3 with a perfect 7-0 record in the league, and as the last standing undefeated team, they are alone in first place.
If it was possible to bottle the first three and a half minutes, or at the very least keep that pace going for a full 40 minutes, Marquette would have run away with this game. A three-pointer from Tyler Kolek at the 16:24 mark on a day where the Rhode Island native would do damn near anything he wanted to on the way to 25 points gave the Golden Eagles a nine point lead, 13-4. That would, unfortunately, be Marquette’s high water mark for the day.
The lead would be completely gone at the 12:24 mark on an and-1 bucket in the paint from XU’s Jerome Hunter, and his freebie put the home team up 18-16. Xavier couldn’t get more than a few points ahead, and with 7:28 to go, Kolek got a Marquette run started. His basket put MU up two, and after the 9-2 burst was over with 5:28 to go, Marquette was back up seven. It kicked back and forth between four and six for a while before finally settling on four, 48-44, heading to halftime.
MU shot nearly 59% in the first half, while Xavier fired in shots to the tune of 49% in the first 20 minutes. The next 20 minutes? Wildly different, with Xavier getting the best of the Golden Eagles in the shooting department, 40% to 35%. Just fatigue after a riproaring first 20 minutes? Something else affecting both squads?
The halftime lead was clearly not safe, and it was gone when Souley Boum hit a three for Xavier with 17:54 showing on the clock on his way to scoring 16 points for the Musketeers to tie for the team lead. I’m honestly going to skip over recapping anything else in this game. The fact of the matter is that the lead was never more than four points in either direction for the remainder of the game, and up until the final three minutes, it was really only ever three or fewer points favoring either team. It was just a great classic basketball game that anyone would enjoy watching because first place on the league was on the line and two ranked teams were butting heads and trading big shots. After Boum’s three-pointer to put Xavier up 51-50, there would be six lead changes and five ties, up to and including Oso Ighodaro pulling Marquette even at 72 with 72 seconds left.
Marquette went on the road against the #12 team in the country who had an unbeaten record in league play, and turned it into a 72 second game. No one likes to lose, but damn if that’s not a hell of a performance in one hell of a basketball game.
Xavier got a midrange J from Boum on their possession, 74-72. Marquette got a three-footer in the lane from Olivier-Maxence Prosper..... and it just bounced away off the rim. That’s your ball game. MU did some fouling to have a chance to swipe a win over the final 30 seconds, but the Musketeers hit their freebies and MU was never truly in position to have a chance.
Kolek’s 25 led Marquette on the day, and he added four rebounds and seven assists to his stat sheet. Ighodaro finished with 14 points and a team high eight rebounds, while Kam Jones (12) and OMax Prosper (10) also got to double digits in scoring.
How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: First there’s Monday’s brand new Associated Press poll, which should be interesting after Marquette beat #6 at home and lost at #12 and 10 ranked teams lost on Saturday. After that, the Golden Eagles will be back in action on Wednesday night when they host Providence. The Friars are coming off their first loss in league play, a 73-67 defeat on the road against Creighton on Saturday. Tipoff at Fiserv Forum is scheduled for 8pm Central time, oh, and MU is honoring the 2003 Final Four team during that game, too.