Man, I love it when Marquette men’s basketball plays an awesome game at Fiserv Forum. Ain’t nothing like it. Even more so when they win.
That’s what Wednesday night was, as Shaka Smart’s #20 ranked Golden Eagles cashed in the celebration of the 2003 Final Four team by securing an 83-75 victory over #22 Providence. With the win, Marquette is now 15-5 on the year and 7-2 in Big East play, just half a game back of 7-1 Xavier, since the Musketeers lost at DePaul on Wednesday as well.
Marquette did not do a fantastic job of stringing together stops in this game. The goal is to put three stops together at eight different points in the game. That didn’t happen in this one, far from it in fact. However, Marquette’s first kill of the game came right after Providence had stayed within two points of MU, 24-22. The Friars came up empty on each of the next three possessions, including twice by way of turnover, and in the meantime, Marquette went on a 6-0 burst. It’s not much, but a transition dunk from Oso Ighodaro gave the Golden Eagles an eight point edge, 30-22. One possession later, a three from Olivier-Maxence Prosper pushed the margin to nine, and after another turnover by the Friars, Ighodaro put MU up 11 with 3:22 left in the half.
That was Marquette’s high water mark for the first 20 minutes, and it would be just a seven point game, 38-31, at intermission, but Marquette’s offense was humming — 48% shooting from the floor, 44% from long range — and they held Providence to less than a point per possession.
Unfortunately for Marquette, that defense did not hold in the second half, as they surrendered 44 points to Providence. Fortunately for Marquette, their offense found an extra gear. They never made a major run in the final 20 minutes, but the Golden Eagles did just keep right on scoring. Kam Jones would give the Golden Eagles their largest lead to that point with a bucket to go up 12 less than 90 seconds into the second half, providing a little burst away from the Friars coming out of the locker room. A little over three minutes later, a big ol’ dunk off an offensive rebound from OMax made it a 14 point game, 49-35, with 15:01 to play. That would be MU’s largest lead of the game, although they would replicate it with 12:16 to go.
That’s when things got a weeeee bit shaky for Marquette. Fouls were stacking up on the Golden Eagles, although only Ighodaro ever got into foul trouble with more than two. Fouls went four for Marquette as they had that 14 point lead to just one for Providence, and there were three more by MU by the 9:50 mark of the game. The way the thing was being called, you can see how the Golden Eagles might have started getting a little bit less aggressive on the defensive end. You’ve got a lead, you know you can score, you don’t want to risk more fouls.... but that leads to Providence getting buckets.
The margin sank into single digits. A putback from Ed Croswell cut the lead to six with 6:57 to go. A three from Devin Carter, one of two in the game for him, cut the lead to six with 4:14 to go. It became time for Marquette to either slam the door or lose control of the game.
They slammed the door. Yes, Providence got it as close as five points. Kam Jones swiped the rock from Carter for a transition bucket. Back to five on a second chance bucket — Providence finished with 16 offensive rebounds in the game, grabbing over 41% of their misses — from Corey Floyd, but once again it was Kam Jones answering with a triple, eight point game, 2:07 to go.
The clock was on Marquette’s side. Providence started running out of options other than fouling, and the Golden Eagles went 8-for-8 from the line in the final 92 seconds to close out the Friars and believe it or not, if not for a useless garbage time bucket from Carter with five seconds left, it would have been a double digit win for MU after they lost in double overtime to Providence in the first meeting this season.
Kam Jones finished with a game high 21 points, beating out the 20 put up by PC’s Ed Croswell, and MU held Bryce Hopkins, he of the 20/20 double double last time around, to “only” 19 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes this time. Tyler Kolek had an outstanding game, finishing with 19 points after cashing the final six free throws of the game, and he added a team high eight rebounds and a team high six assists to help propel the squad to victory. OMax Prosper (13) and Oso Ighodaro (10) also got to double digits in scoring.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and CBS Sports Network?
Up Next: Can I interest you in a visit to sunny Newark, New Jersey? Well, okay, if you’re not interested, that’s fine, but the team is going to The Rock on Saturday to face Seton Hall. The Pirates are coming off wiping away a 17 point deficit to beat UConn at home, 67-66, and they’ve now won five of their last six games. Tipoff on January 21st is scheduled for 3pm Central time, and yes, it will once again be on CBS Sports Network.