We’re skipping straight to the end.
#6 Marquette 72, Butler 56.
From No. 9 in the @BIGEASTMBB preseason poll all the way to the top @MarquetteMBB becomes the first team ranked ninth or lower in the preseason poll to win the outright BIG EAST season title pic.twitter.com/6olOm99otX— CBS Sports College Basketball (@CBSSportsCBB) March 1, 2023
Okay, actual recap content.
Ok, no, wait, one more.
Okay, now recappery.
Marquette kicked Butler’s ass.
There’s no other way to say it. The Golden Eagles held Butler scoreless from a three-pointer by Simas Lukosius with 17:22 to go in the first half until a jumper by Chuck Harris with 8:38 left. Harris’ bucket cut Marquette’s lead to 16-8, and is it not super great that Marquette was only on a 10-0 run in that nearly nine minute stretch? Yeah, it’s not what you want, but when you’re a gifted offensive team and you’ve managed to crank up the defense like this? You take it and then go score some buckets. Marquette pushed the lead as high as 16 points before we got to halftime at 36-22, not that far off from the second half score of this encounter in Milwaukee earlier this season.
Tyler Kolek opened up the scoring for the second half, and Butler answered by cutting the margin to 11 with 17:05 to go. Marquette responded — because Shaka Smart loves it when his team responds — by holding Butler scoreless for nearly another five minutes. A transition bucket by Kam Jones pushed the margin to 20 and closed out a 9-0 run that was the equivalent of Gandalf shouting YOU SHALL NOT PASS at the Balrog. Marquette’s lead would peak as high as 26 points as the second half went along — with Butler holding more turnovers than field goals for an awful lot of it — and Butler would eventually close the margin to just 14..... but there were only two minutes left to play.
And that was that. Big East champs, clinched, outright, can not be tied. Marquette is 16-3 in Big East play with one game to go, Xavier and Providence both have five losses, and Creighton has six. Fourth regular season conference championship in program history, second Big East title, and first ever outright Big East title.
Year Two of the Shaka Smart era is not over yet and it’s already been a historic run for MU’s head coach.
Tyler Kolek led all scorers in this one, putting the ball through the rim in a variety of ways to get to 21 points on the night, and he had a double-double thanks to 10 assists, too. It is his seventh double digit assist game of the season. Olivier-Maxence Prosper had a nice outing with 14 points to go with five rebounds, while Oso Ighodaro was the third double digit scorer with 12 points and a team high six rebounds. David Joplin was quietly destructive to the Bulldogs, finishing with six points, five rebounds, four assists, and a game high five steals.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: One final game, and in this case it will be a coronation and celebration. St. John’s comes to Fiserv Forum for Al’s Night on Saturday, with tipoff on Fox scheduled for 1pm Central time. I just checked Ticketmaster, and the only tickets available are Verified Resale Only, which sounds an awful lot like a sell out already to me.