Jamil Wilson gets second shot at Butler

Jamil Wilson gets a second shot at Butler after falling flat in Maui. (USA Today)

Jamil Wilson gets a second shot at Butler after falling flat in Maui. (USA Today)

For the next 48 hours you will see Rotnei Clark’s buzzer-beater against Marquette in the opening round of the Maui Invitational more times than you can count. In case you hadn’t got your fill all year on the Watch ESPN commercial, CBS should air the running, one-handed, 30-foot heave from Butler’s sharpshooter that turned a two-point loss into a one-point win for the Bulldogs. You’ve been warned.

But what you won’t see shown on replay before Saturday evening’s tilt for a chance to go to the Sweet 16 is Jamil Wilson’s rock-bottom performance in that same game, a game in which he failed to score and committed more fouls (four) than he did grab rebounds (three) in a season-low 14 minutes.

Clarke’s heave was the most memorable shot of the early season, but Wilson’s porous defense and invisible offense were just as much to blame for the buzzer-beating loss. That’s where Wilson gets his revenge Saturday night, against one of the deepest frontcourts remaining in the NCAA Tournament.

Coming off a pair of solid performances against Colgate and Southeast Louisiana (21 points, nine rebounds, nine assists) Wilson, then in the starting lineup, was matched up against Butler forward Khyle Marshall much of the afternoon. Marshall, a 6-foot-6 junior, had averaged 10.5 points and 4.0 rebounds his first two games of the season entering Maui, but on that Nov. 19 afternoon he wound up scoring a career-high 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting.

Marquette’s defense was average most of the game–the Bulldogs shot 44 percent and committed just seven turnovers–but Wilson struggled both with foul trouble and staying in front of Marshall.

In his season-low 14 minutes, the man Wilson guarded (Khyle Marshall all but once; Andrew Smith another) scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while Wilson’s four fouls sent him to the bench early and often, forcing Buzz Williams to use Juan Anderson (22 minutes) and freshman Steve Taylor Jr. (13 minutes) for extended periods.

It was an ugly performance from Wilson, and it didn’t get much better on the offensive end. He was passive, slow to react and wound up missing all four of his shots and committing a turnover. He did, however, assist on a late 3-pointer from Vander Blue to give Marquette  lead, but all-in-all it was a disappointing afternoon for Wilson, which wound up sending him to the bench for the remainder of the season. That in itself wasn’t a demotion as much as it was to keep him out of foul trouble, but it was a step back nonetheless.

After the game we documented how Marquette failed to make one defensive stop in the final 8:15 of the game, leading to Butler’s late surge and eventual win. Wilson was in on that, recording a plus-minus of 1 in 14 minutes while allowing Marshall to drive past him on seemingly every possession he touched the ball.

And that’s why, as tough as Clarke’s shot was to swallow, Wilson will have a chance at a do-over Saturday night as the biggest “revenge” motivation in the building. And if recent performances are any indication, he could do just that.

Vander Blue received the praise from national pundits and SportsCenter for his last-second layup to give Marquette the win yesterday, but Wilson’s two clutch 3-pointers cut the lead in the final minute to three and one points, respectively. Without those makes, Marquette is headed back to campus as a one-and-done.

Williams has applauded Wilson as Marquette’s best player over the last month, and it’s hard to argue against that. In his last six games, Wilson is averaging 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He’s shooting just 40 percent, but has gone to the free throw line 27 times and connected on a 3-pointer in each game. Better yet, he has committed just nine turnovers in a 177-minute span.

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