This is part one of a three-part series looking back at the top 27 moments of the 2011-2012 Marquette basketball season. Today’s moments are numbers 19 through 27. Check back tomorrow for moments 10 through 18, and again on Friday for the top nine moments of the year. This list was compiled by Mark Strotman and Andrei Greska.
Marquette enjoyed its second Sweet 16 berth in as many years in 2011, and the season was highlighted by numerous plays, performances and comebacks. In honor of Marquette’s 27-win season, here are the top 27 moments of the year.
27. Jones skies for a slam against Mount St. Mary’s
Jamail Jones did not break out in 2011, but he sure put on a show in the season opener. The sophomore wing scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including a powerful, one-handed dunk off a steal he forced. Jones also finished with three rebounds and two steals in the 91-37 win over Mount St. Mary’s, giving fans a glimpse of his athleticism and outside jumper. Later in the year, Jones threw down a massive, tomahawk dunk off the left baseline against Notre Dame, which happened to be his best game of the season.
26. Blue throws down alley-oop dunk in front of Wade, James
With his favorite basketball player LeBron James watching court side, Vander Blue threw down a dunk on an alley-oop pass from Junior Cadougan early in the second half of Marquette’s win over Seton Hall. Dwyane Wade was also in the building, watching his alma mater the night before his Heat took on the Bucks in Milwaukee. Blue’s dunk was important, too. It sparked a 16-2 Marquette run that took the Golden Eagles from down six to up eight in a four-minute span. Blue finished with 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes.
25. #BringWadeToMadness becomes reality
A month-long hashtag effort on Twitter by the Paint Touches crew resulted in Dwyane Wade returning to Milwaukee to participate in Marquette Madness to kick off the season. Wade made his entrance felt, running on to the the court from the opposite tunnel to a chorus of cheers. He specifically thanked Marquette nation for their efforts on Twitter, and later participated in the team’s scrimmage. Former Marquette players Wesley Matthews, Lazar Hayward, Jimmy Butler and Steve Novak also returned and played in the scrimmage.
24. O’Quinn misses 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal Marquette win
It’s not often you play a cupcake twice in a season, let alone twice in four games, but that was the case when Marquette took on Norfolk State in the championship of the Paradise Jam, fresh off a 31 point beatdown in Milwaukee. What a difference a week made. Norfolk had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds, but Kyle O’Quinn’s last second 3-pointer clanked off the rim to give Marquette the title. What appeared to be an embarrassing win turned legit three months later when that same Norfolk team went on to upset No. 2 Missouri in the NCAA Tourney. Still, a loss there would have completely changed the complexion of the season.
23. Marquette puts on shooting clinic in win over Ole Miss
The Virgin Islands were good to Marquette, as the Golden Eagles took home the championship in the three-day tournament. Perhaps their best performance was a 96-66 win over Ole Miss in the semifinals. Behind Jae Crowder’s 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, Marquette shot almost 56 percent from the field and made 33-of-43 free throws in the win. The starting five accounted for 70 of the 96 points and shot over 61 percent from the field. Darius Johnson-Odom added 20 points and Davante Gardner scored 15, helped out by a perfect 9-for-9 effort from the free throw line.
22. Marquette lands two premier in-state recruits for 2013 class
Under Armour’s commercials used to implore customers: “you must protect this house.” Looks like Buzz and company were listening as they received commitments from two 2013 top-100 prospects from within the borders of Wisconsin. Small forward Deonte Burton, a top-30 recruit from Milwaukee Vincent, has nothing small about him and already has a Big East ready body. Point guard Duane Wilson from Dominican High School announced he would be joining his cousin Jamil Wilson as a member of the blue and gold on Mar. 20, as he will fill the hole Junior Cadougan will leave after he graduates.
21. Front court holds Oriakhi, Drummond to seven rebounds
Without Chris Otule and Davante Gardner, Marquette was severely undersized heading into its contest at Connecticut. But Jae Crowder and Jamil Wilson owned the glass, combining for 18 rebounds while holding 6-foot-10 Andre Drummond and 6-foot-9 Alex Oriakhi to a combined 17 points and seven rebounds. It was the duo’s lowest rebounding total in over a month, and Marquette won the rebounding battle by four (31-27). Crowder and Wilson were just as good on the other end, combining for 38 points. Crowder got to the free throw line 10 times, putting Drummond in early foul trouble.
20. Mayo erupts for 22 points in first career start
Off to one of the best starts in school history at 9-0, Marquette nation was shocked when it was announced DJO would not play against Northern Colorado after being suspended for violating team rules. Not to worry. Freshman Todd Mayo stepped up and then some, showing of his scoring prowess by scoring 22 points in his first career start. Mayo caught fire in the first half, hitting all three shots from beyond the arc en route to 14 first half points. He would add five rebounds and four assists to go along with his career-high 22 points in the game. O.J. who?
19. Johnson-Odom scores 24 in Big East opener
Following an embarrassing home loss to Vanderbilt to close the non-conference season, Marquette needed a good showing against Villanova to open the Big East season. Darius Johnson-Odom delivered. The senior got things going early, taking an alley-oop pass from Vander Blue and slamming it home for the first points of the game. Johnson-Odom finished with 24 points in the win, including a 4-of-7 effort from beyond the arc. He added six rebounds, three assists and a steal in the win, and his shooting performance began a streak of nine straight games with at least 18 points.