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Not The End Anyone Wanted: #7 Michigan State 69, #2 Marquette 60

One of the best seasons I’ve gotten to witness with my own eyes comes to a stop a little earlier than anyone wanted

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Sunday’s season ending loss for Marquette men’s basketball had three stages.

The first stage was the first nine-ish minutes of the second round of the NCAA tournament. With 12:24 left in the first half, Joey Hauser hit two free throws to stake Michigan State to an 18-5 lead. That’s actually worse than it sounds because Stevie Mitchell snagged a steal five seconds into the game and scored a transition layup five seconds after that. 18-3 after that up through Hauser’s freebies, so that’s bad.

The second stage was the entire rest of the first half as Marquette said “hey, wait, this sucks, let’s stop this right now” and closed the remainder of the opening session on a 23-15 run to trail by just five at the break. It was actually a little bit better than that because Olivier-Maxence Prosper had trimmed the margin to just three with 60 seconds left in the half. The stage continued into the second half as OMax hit two more three-pointers coming out of the locker room to suddenly shove the Golden Eagles out in front, and then Oso Ighodaro tacked on a bucket for a three point lead, 36-33.

31-15 run to take a three point lead.

We’ll continue the second stage alllllllll the way through Marquette’s 42-40 lead off a triple from David Joplin with 12:13 to go in the second half, and even as far as the 11 minute mark, just a little past that, as the lead held til then.

Whatever was working for Marquette for the previous 21 minutes just pffffft, disappeared. This is the start of stage three. After Joplin’s three, here’s Marquette’s next three possessions: Turnover, turnover, turnover. Five out of the next six possessions for the Golden Eagles were a turnover, five of the 16 turnovers that they had in the game. Mix in a flagrant foul on Prosper for an incredibly stupid decision to reach over a screen and yank Hauser by the shoulder as he cut to the rim, and Michigan State led, 48-42.

The game wasn’t over there, not with a dunk from Ighodaro pulling Marquette within one, not with a three from Kam Jones cutting the lead to just two, not with a free throw from Prosper cutting the lead to just one with 3:36 to go. The game was there for the taking after the Spartans went on that turnover fueled run. But maybe cause they had to do too much to get it there, or maybe because they could see it there to grab and pressed too hard to get it there.... they just could make the plays that we’ve seen them make so many times this season, especially in the last couple of weeks.

10-0 run for Michigan State after the OMax free throws as the Golden Eagles saw the season and a spot in the Sweet 16 slide through their fingers.

Is it bad to give up a 10-0 run with the game on the line? Sure, but it’s also bad to give up an 18-3 run to start the game. 28-5 in the first nine, 13-5 in the final three. 41-10 Michigan State in 12-ish minutes of the game. You’re not going to win a lot of basketball games that way, and Marquette didn’t win this one.

Your leading scorer for Marquette on the day is — I bet you can guess it — Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who got 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting with 3-for-7 coming from behind the arc. He added four rebounds to the day. Oso Ighodaro (10) and Kam Jones (13) joined him in double digit town, while Stevie Mitchell went for six points and a team high eight rebounds. Tyler Kolek... was bad. 2-for-8 from the field, with misses on all three of his two-point attempts to go with a game high six turnovers. That’s six of Marquette’s 16 as a team, and many if not all of them were of the “I’m gonna make something super awesome happen right now to get us back in this game!” variety when just playing controlled basketball was the correct call.

Up Next: Offseason evil. Must be destroyed.