Seeing how #8 Marquette men’s basketball reacted to their pretty ugly loss to Wisconsin over the weekend was perhaps the most notable part of Wednesday night’s game at home against #12 Texas. Just based on the AP rankings involved, it was shaping up to be a tougher test than the one posed by the Badgers on Saturday afternoon, so it was somewhat imperative that the Golden Eagles respond and look better.
For the first 70 seconds, that looked like it was not going to happen. After Tyler Kolek opened the scoring with a three-pointer, scoring star Max Abmas netted three triples of his own as the game clock hit 18:50 left in the first half, and Texas led 9-3 out of the gate. Seemed worrying at the time, but Marquette started playing within themselves and started getting stops. It wasn’t putting them out in the lead, mind you, but they started playing even with Texas as the Golden Eagles reeled off six straight stops for two kills in a row, or a skunk in the parlance of the team.
Brock Cunningham hit a three for the Horns, their fourth of the game already, to put the visitors up 20-18 with 9:37 left in the first. That’s when the MU offense flickered to life and, powered by a pair of threes from Kam Jones on either side of a triple from David Joplin, the Golden Eagles ripped off 11 straight points to go up 29-20 with 5:49 left in the frame. Texas absorbed the blow and answered with eight straight of their own for a 29-28 Marquette lead after a bucket from Abmas with 3:11 left before halftime.
Then the game changed, and it was clear that Marquette knew that they had to show a response to Saturday’s loss.
Marquette closed out the first half on a 13-0 run for a 14 point advantage at halftime. Then, they started out the second half with a 20-8 run, led by eight points from Kolek. That’s a 33-8 run by the Golden Eagles in just a shade over 11 minutes of basketball. The score was 62-36, and effectively, the game was over.
The Golden Eagles made the point very clear to Texas over the next seven minutes or so. After the first possession of the second half gave Marquette their second skunk of the game, they recorded a third one as the final 20 minutes went along. MU held Texas off at arm’s length until a bucket from Oso Ighodaro crested the margin at 32 points, 81-49, with 4:29 to go. Congrats to Texas for trimming the margin down to just 21 points at the horn... but yeah, Marquette had let their foot off the gas, and they needed to force a turnover off of the walkons in the final 20 seconds and throw an alleyoop to former top 10 prospect Dillon Mitchell to even make it that close.
Your MVP of the game by what I think is a very silly margin is Tyler Kolek. He went full Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek in this game, netting a game high 28 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including a perfect 7-for-7 inside the arc, and he added eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Kam Jones (17) and Chase Ross (12) joined him in double digit town, as Jones’ 5-for-8 from long range was a big reason why the Golden Eagles notched the win. All told, as a team, MU connected on 47% of their 30 three-point attempts in the game, which is a much desired improvement on the 24% outing against the Badgers.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: Marquette’s three game homestand continues on Saturday when they welcome Notre Dame to Fiserv Forum on the return end of last year’s visit to South Bend. The Irish are 4-4 on the year after beating Western Michigan by 21 at home on Tuesday night. Notre Dame has gone 1-3 against Major Six opponents so far this season and winless in regulation against those teams. On top of that, first year head coach Micah Shrewsberry also took a 10 point home loss to Western Carolina.