Post-game reaction: Marquette stomped by No. 12 Louisville

1. Davante Gardner’s importance can’t be understated

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Davante Gardner’s absence in the Marquette offense makes it an average group, at best. After picking up two fouls in four minutes in the first half, the Golden Eagles stalled offensively — not to mention they lost size in the paint — and never rebounded. It’s tough to critique Gardner since he’s rarely in foul trouble, but it’s to the point where he can’t afford to ever be limited with fouls if Marquette’s offense has a chance. Gardner finished with a season-low two points and two rebounds (both offensive).

2. Marquette finally looked small today

As hard as it is to believe, Marquette was tops in the Big East in not allowing opponents offensive rebounds. Of course that wasn’t the case today, as Louisville grabbed more than half (13-of-25) of its misses on the offensive glass. Marquette is bigger than year’s past, but against teams like Florida and Louisville, and likely Syracuse and Notre Dame, size is going to take a toll on the Golden Eagles’ front court. The frontcourt’s effort has been tremendous all year, but a few games like these are inevitable.

3. Struggles against zones

Marquette’s zone offense has been better in 2012-’13, but there’s just no answer when ball movement is scarce and the team is settling for jumpers. No player had more than one assist today, and as a team Marquette had six assists to 17 turnovers. Obviously that won’t get the job done statistically, but the long jumpers and hesitancy to go into the paint were more telling.

4. The sky isn’t falling

Whether it be a one-point loss to Butler on a buzzer-beater in Maui, a 33-point loss at Florida or a 19-point loss at Louisville, one loss is one loss. Yes, Marquette will fall out of the Top 25 but remains 6-2 in the conference. Theoretically the Golden Eagles need four or five more wins to be considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament. A win at No. 12 Louisville wasn’t one of the games they needed. The way they lost today was bad, but a road loss to one of the top teams in the country isn’t the end of the world. Let’s remember: Marquette is tied for first in the Big East on Feb. 3.

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