Let’s be painfully honest about what happened across the length and breadth of #6 Marquette’s 96-94 victory over St. John’s on Saturday to close out the regular season.
ITEM #1: Marquette went up 30-11 out of the gate, thanks to a 23-2 run, absolutely manhandling the Red Storm all over the place for the first 9+ minutes of the game.
ITEM #2: Marquette never lost the lead after that.
ITEM #3: Marquette never recaptured their emphatic play after that, either.
ITEM #4: Joel Soriano finally got going late in the first half after Marquette made his life miserable for the first 13 minutes of the game, and that was a big reason why Dylan Addae-Wusu was able to pull the Red Storm within six with a more than halfcourt prayer at the horn for intermission.
ITEM #5: For the first 19 minutes and 31 seconds of the second half, Marquette outscored St. John’s 40-36 to extend their margin to 10 points with 29 seconds to go. That includes an 18-11 stretch favoring Marquette after the Johnnies got an and-1 from Addae-Wusu to make it a two point game, 75-73, with 5:45 to play.
So that brings us to the final 29 seconds of the game. Stevie Mitchell has just hit two free throws to make it a 10 point game. This game is, using Bill James’ equation, analytically final. David Jones hucked in a three. Okay, fine, whatever, it’s a seven point game with 21 seconds left.
Marquette fails to inbound the ball properly, the ball wanders over the corner, never goes out of bounds, Jones of all people scoops it up and Oso Ighodaro contest that shot about as well as you could possibly ask someone to contest some absolute bullshit shot with 18 seconds left while you’re up seven.
It swishes the net in defiance of God’s will, so yeah, now it’s a four point game with 18 seconds left. But since the shot clock is off, SJU has to foul, Mitchell hits two, and Shaka Smart gets a chance to sub out walk on Michael Kennedy on his Senior Day after subbing him in before Jones’ two triples because now he can also get an ovation as well and now it is a six point game with 16 seconds left and what else could POSSIBLY happen?
Well, one of the answers to that question is “Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who was spectacular with 10 early points in this game, figures out a way to foul Addae-Wusu while he’s shooting a three with 12 seconds to go and OF COURSE it goes in AND he makes the bonus freebie.”
95-93 Marquette, 12 seconds left.
David Joplin is fouled.
HE MISSES BOTH FREE THROWS, WHICH REALLY WOULD HAVE ENDED THIS FOR REALSIES THIS TIME, and that gives the Johnnies a chance to go down the floor and shoot to win.... and Jones attacks for a layup and missesssssss and Tyler Kolek fouls O’Mar Stanley on the rebound.
Why, God, why.
He makes the first, 95-94 misses the second, Kam Jones comes up with maybe the most exciting rebound of the entire season, gets fouled, makes the first, misses the second — WHICH IS NOT A GOOD PLAN UP ONLY TWO WITH ONE SECOND LEFT — but SJU can’t huck any more nonsense into the basket today.
350 words to explain 29 seconds of “what in tarnation is happening here.” It sucked, big time, it sucked sour frog ass.
But it’s a win! That’s the good news, Marquette’s 17th Big East win of the season, and it allowed the team to fire off confetti and streamers, take a bunch of pictures, and cut down the nets at Fiserv Forum without the lingering phantom of “y’all blew that one, you know that, right?” hovering over the proceedings.
Kam Jones is your leading scorer here, getting to 23 on that last second free throw. Tyler Kolek did Tyler Kolek things, getting to 18 points on the day and adding 10 assists for his third straight double digit helpers game. Ultimately all five starters got to double digits in points with Stevie Mitchell adding 14, Oso Ighodaro adding 13 to go with seven assists and three rebounds, and OMax Prosper chipping 10, with all 10 coming in the first seven minutes of the game.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: As of right now, the Big East has not officially released the bracket for the conference tournament, but even if they did, we wouldn’t know Marquette’s next opponent yet. As the outright regular season champions, MU is the #1 seed and thus we know that they will play at 11am Central time on Thursday, March 9. They will play the winner of Wednesday afternoon’s game between the #8 and #9 seed.... which has been whittled down to either St. John’s or Butler. That game will tip at 2pm Central on Wednesday on FS1, and we’ll figure things out from there.