For 20 minutes on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum, things were fine. Not good, not bad, fine. #11 Marquette men’s basketball led, 35-28, at the half, and given exactly how they got there, everyone in blue and gold had to feel kind of okay about where the evening was going.
The next 20 minutes changed that feeling in a big way, and quite honestly, probably changed everyone’s ideas about what lies ahead across the next 15 games. Your final from Milwaukee: Butler 69, #11 Marquette 62. The Golden Eagles are now 11-5 on the year and just 2-3 in Big East play after having lost consecutive games for the first time since the 2022 Big East and NCAA tournaments.
You can’t say you felt good about the first half of this game. No one involved could say that, definitely anyone on the Butler side as they were trailing by seven. But after watching the Golden Eagles inexplicably go 1-for-12 from behind the three-point line — David Joplin had the only make with 4:03 to go to put Marquette up 10 at the time — but still lead by a respectable margin, you had to think things were going to balance out. Marquette wasn’t going to suddenly have a great shooting night on the whole by the end of the game, but they’d shoot something like 33% from behind the arc, keep leaning on Butler to turn the ball over like they did 10 times in the first half, and while it might not be FUN, it should probably end up in a win.
And then Marquette missed their first five three-point attempts of the second half, all in the first three minutes.
The good news was that Butler wasn’t exactly catching fire either, so the Golden Eagles were able to maintain their lead. Kam Jones finally broke through with a triple on Attempt #6, but Jahmyl Telfort hit his second three-pointer of Big East play to answer, and 41 seconds later, Posh Alexander gave Butler the lead.
That Telfort triple kicked off an 11-0 Butler run. They led 47-40 after a layup from Landon Moore with 13:11 to go.
Marquette would never lead again.
In fact, after Stevie Mitchell broke the 11-0 run on MU’s ensuing possession, Butler scored the next five points, and the Golden Eagles would never get closer than the five point margin that Mitchell’s bucket provided.
Here’s how bad it got, and I don’t mean this as a slight to the guy involved: For a stretch of over six and a half minutes, freshman Zaide Lowery was the only Golden Eagle to score, and he only managed to put up five points.
You’re not winning a lot of ballgames when a guy who played approximately 15 seconds last time out and not at all in the game before that is your leading scorer in any six minute stretch of any game.
Oh, and the universe provided an injury to insult: Just under the five minute mark left in the game and Marquette down 10, Sean Jones popped the ball free from Posh Alexander and took off down the court. He attempted to gather and go up for a contested transition layup, and lost the ball. One second later, it became obvious why, as Jones fell to the ground, immediately grabbed his knee, and it was clear even from row 13 behind the Marquette bench that he was howling in pain.
I’m not a doctor and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but that’s a blown ACL if I’ve ever seen one.
By the end, Marquette shot 5-for-31 from behind the three-point line, and yes, that’s 4-for-19 in the second half, because apparently the 1-for-12 in the first half didn’t scare them off the proposition enough. The really frustrating part? MU was 19-for-42 inside the arc, and while 45% isn’t the greatest shooting night in the world, it’s still one that you’ll happily take, especially in contrast with the SIXTEEN PERCENT outside the arc. Of particular note in this department? Kam Jones started the game FIVE FOR FIVE on layups, including getting an and-1 on his fifth. He had a missed three-pointer in there as well, but hey: You’re allowed one when you’re going like that. After that point of the game? 4-for-17, including 1-for-9 from long range, and yes, that means 3-for-6 inside the arc which is still VERY GOOD but depressing against the eight missed three-pointers.
Oso Ighodaro missed a double-double by one rebound. He was good. Again in a loss.
How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and CBS Sports?
Up Next: Four days off, and I imagine there will be some very uncomfortable things said out loud in the McGuire Center in that time. After that, it’s a Martin Luther King, Jr., Day matinee against Villanova. Tipoff at Fiserv is set for 1:30pm Central and Fox will carry the broadcast. The Wildcats lost at home to St. John’s for the first time in decades in their most recent game to drop to 10-5 on the year and 3-1 in Big East action, and they will host DePaul on Friday night before traveling to Milwaukee.