Reactions from Marquette’s win over Connecticut

If Jae Crowder hadn’t already done it before today, his 29-point, 12-rebound performance solidified him as a first team All-Big East member. Not only did he battle inside, holding Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond to a combined seven rebounds, he hit clutch basket after clutch basket to keep the lead extended. He racked up three more steals, went 9-10 from the free throw line and was easily Marquette’s most important player today.

Jeremy Lamb went for 19 points on 7-12 shooting, but Vander Blue and Todd Mayo checked him pretty well most of the afternoon. After making his first four shots, Lamb really was not a factor in the second half. The big key was holding Lamb to his limit and no more. He finished with two points more than his average. Success.

It was great to see Mayo finally break out of his slump. He got to the line eight times, hit his first 3-pointer in seven games and was back in double-digits off the bench with 10 points. He was aggressive and made great decisions in transition. Zero turnovers in 18 minutes were just as big.

Wouldn’t you know, Junior Cadougan racked up eight more assists on Saturday, including five in the second half. Earlier in the week Jamail Jones dubbed him the best point guard in the Big East, and from a passing standpoint it’s hard to argue. He also chipped in five points early in the game to keep Marquette from a slow start. He also held his counterpart, Ryan Boatright, to 10 points and three turnovers.

The Huskies, one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation, were held to just eight on Saturday. They didn’t get their first offensive rebound until 13 minutes into the game and, in the second half, had three on one possession of missed tip-ins. They didn’t score on that possession. Credit Crowder, Jamil Wilson and even Mayo for their efforts on the glass.

The possessions don’t tell the story for Marquette in the first half. The Golden Eagles only had 32 first half possessions but they scored on three straight possessions THREE seconds into the shot clock. They play fast, but usually not that fast. It was great for a national audience to see just how deadly they can be on the fast break. Credit Buzz Williams for gameplanning against a slower Connecticut team that simply could not get back on defense. One way to keep from starting slow? Play as fast as possible.

While it’s usually Darius Johnson-Odom overshadowing Crowder’s performances, today was the opposite. For as good as Crowder was, Johnson-Odom was huge in the win. He finished with 24 points and four more 3-pointers in the win. He now has 23, 23 and 24 points in his last three games, respecitively. Crowder may keep him from winning Big East player of the year, but Johnson-Odom certainly will trade that for a run late into the NCAA Tournament.

It was just one possession, but it’s worth noting that Jamail Jones worked his tail off for about 20 seconds on Alex Oriakhi, which led to a Connecticut turnover. He fronted Oriakhi three times on the possession and, when he switched onto Boatright, Crowder came over and intercepted his pass. It was a small play in the grand scheme of things, but it was a great job by Jones.


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