Wooooooboy, that was a Big East basketball game.
Your final from Milwaukee: #14 Marquette 73, Villanova 64. The Golden Eagles are now 18-5 overall after the events of the first day of February, and thanks to said events, their 10-2 record in Big East play has them tied with only Xavier atop the conference standings.
Want to know how great of a game this was?
Villanova’s largest lead of the game was six points, that came with 18:07 left in the first half, as the Wildcats scored the first six points of the game.
Marquette’s largest lead of the game was nine points, that came with 14 seconds left in the game, when Olivier-Maxence Prosper put the Golden Eagles up 71-62.
Relative to that point, it is important to note that Marquette never led at all in the first half, they took a lead for the first time with 12:56 to go, and before Tyler Kolek gave Marquette a one point lead with 4:32 to play, Marquette’s biggest lead was four points. With that in mind, the entire middle 33 minutes of the game was played somewhere between Wildcats by six and Golden Eagles by four.
That’s a hell of a ball game.
With that in mind, there’s not much to recap relative to swings in the game. This is what’s important to know, though: Villanova shot the absolute hell out of the ball in the first half, connecting on seven of their 13 long range attempts and posting an effective field goal percentage of 76%. That’s why they were leading at halftime, but let’s take a moment to reflect on why they were up one instead of up four.
The lead was just one point, and Justin Moore buried a three with just seconds left to make it a four point game. Kam Jones, who was listed as questionable for this game on Monday and finished with 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting, said “abso-bleeping-lutely not.”
A still frame, if you don’t mind.
Marquette took that first lead of the game as part of an 8-0 run featuring two freebies from Kolek, a little game of catch between Kolek and Ighodaro that led to a Kolek triple, a Kolek steal for a Caleb Daniels turnover, and a David Joplin three off a Chase Ross assists. The Kolek steal in there finished up Marquette’s sixth kill of the night, and the Golden Eagles were chewing up Villanova and spitting them out in this game, eventually finishing with a takeaway on over 28% of possessions in the game.
But it was Villanova’s shooting that had kept them in the game in the first half, remember. 11 VU turnovers in the first 20 minutes, but because they kept hitting threes, they were still leading. The second half? Wildcats lost their touch. As a team, they shot just 4-for-14 (29%) from beyond the arc after intermission. It’s safe to say that because 14 of their 25 shots in the second half were of the long range variety and because they missed 10 of them, and because they coughed it up another eight times, that’s how Marquette won the game.
Big picture, yes. After that Joplin three, Villanova immediately went on a little 7-2 burst to retake the lead, 51-50. The Wildcats would get that margin as deep as four points at a couple of points, and it ever so slightly started to look like they might figure out how to post their best win of Big East play.
Brandon Slater hit two freebies with 6:17 to go, and that put Villanova up 61-57.
Over the next six minutes, Marquette outscored Villanova 14-1. One Eric Dixon free throw. Marquette stacked up the final kills they needed to get to the every game goal of eight. Prosper hit the freebies with 14 seconds left to go up nine. The end. Had to scrap, fight, claw, make every last possession count.... but they did it. Walked right up to the door, and slammed it in Villanova’s face for the first ever four game winning streak against the Wildcats in program history.
And yes, that means head coach Shaka Smart is 4-0 against Villanova.
Your scoring leader in this one: Tyler Kolek, getting to 20 points thanks to some final minutes free throws. He shot 3-for-6 from long range, added five rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Good stuff. We already mentioned Kam Jones and his 19 point night, and Oso Ighodaro joined them in double digit town with 10 points to go with three rebounds, an assists, two steals, and a block. Stevie Mitchell was tied with Kolek for top rebounding honors with five.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: Who’s ready for National Marquette Day? Butler comes to town on Saturday for the festivities, and tipoff for that game will be at 1pm Central on FS1. The Bulldogs lost their fourth consecutive games back on Saturday and will be idle between then and their visit to Wisconsin.