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Golden Eagles overcome 16-point deficit

Photo by Elise Krivit/elise.krivit@marquette.edu

It started out looking like Vanderbilt 2.0 with the No. 23/21 Louisville Cardinals building an 18-2 lead to open the game. But No. 21/22 Marquette overcame that early 16-point deficit to defeat Louisville 74-63 on Monday afternoon.

Louisville hit 7-of-12 shots (58.3 percent) during the first 6:02 of play, including 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) from three-point territory, to open up a greater deficit than Marquette opened the game with against Vanderbilt (18-4).

Marquette (15-4, 4-2 Big East) did itself no favors in the beginning to counteract the Cardinals (14-5, 2-4 Big East), starting 1-of-9 from the field and 0-of-3 from three.

“We got to get out of that,” senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom said of the consistently slow starts. “Obviously it’s been working, but I don’t think we want to continue that going forward.”

Johnson-Odom added that no one has an answer for why Marquette has started slow in recent games.

When the game was 18-2 and a media timeout forced a stoppage of play, Marquette coach Buzz Williams tried a new approach to get his players back in the game.

“Today I told them nothing. I literally said nothing,” Williams said.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino attributed the quick start to making shots.

“I’ve coached some slow teams, some unathletic teams that can pass and shoot. We have some good quickness. We cut. We do a lot of good things,” Pitino said. “But shooting is not our forte, either from the field or the line. So when we do make shots like we did in that period, then we look great.”

Marquette responded with a 32-12 run to end the first half, taking a 34-30 lead after 20 minutes, and a 72-45 run the rest of the game after the first 6:02.

Pitino expected Marquette to make it a game at some point.

“I thought they’d make a run. I was hoping we could sustain it. I told our guys, ‘don’t be down,’” Pitino said. “You had a reason to be down after the Providence game (when Louisville lost 90-59) because you didn’t give extraordinary effort. I said you’re giving great effort.”

This was a game that Williams said his team can feel proud about its performance.

“I think we played more consecutive minutes of ‘us’ than we have in Big East play, I’m very encouraged by that,” Williams said. “We’ve got to figure how to do that from start to finish.

“The first seven minutes of the game is obviously not indicative of how we want to play or how we practice or how we work. But I think from that point forward that’s much more ‘us’ and that gives us our best chance for success.”

Johnson-Odom said the key to the turnaround was Marquette doing what it does best: running after a defensive stop. Marquette had eight turkeys – three consecutive stops – according to Johnson-Odom.

“I think it was more of us being able to get out in transition and getting stops,” Johnson-Odom said. “Especially when you got Jamil (Wilson) playing the ‘4’ and Jae (Crowder) playing the ‘5.’ Those guys are very versatile at what they do. It makes us a lot faster.”

Johnson-Odom led all Golden Eagles with 19 points while Crowder posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, ending his day with a technical foul with 1:09 left after he gave a slashing motion across his neck and yelled towards the student section “it’s over.”

It was the first time in its previous four games that Marquette won both halves of play, stopping the tale of Jekyll and Hyde performances.

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  1. Preview of potential Marquette Big East Tournament opponents | Paint Touches - March 5, 2012

    […] Golden Eagles overcome slow start to beat Cardinals […]

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