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Top 2012-13 Performances: No. 5 Chris Otule vs. Davidson

Statline: 11 pts, 11 reb, 4 blk, 4-5 FG, 3-4 FT, 22 min.

Quality of opponent: 8/10. Davidson was a No. 14 seed in the East regional, but as we saw early this was not your typical mid-major. The Wildcats entered the NCAA Tournament on a 17-game winning streak, the longest in the country to date, and had a talented group of experienced starters who weren’t fazed by the bright lights of March Madness. Seeds essentially go out the window when Tourney Time comes around, and Bob McKillop’s group was ready.

Magnitude of game: 8/10. True, it was just the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and Marquette’s aspirations were much higher than getting past this, but in order to do that the Golden Eagles needed to get by Davidson. After a Big East regular season title the pressure was on Marquette, and a rematch with Butler could only happen if it got by the Wildcats.

Rundown: Otule found himself in a precarious position, having an advantage on offense but facing a serious mismatch defensively against stretch-forward Jake Cohen, the conference player of the year. He was stellar in the first half, finishing with three points, nine rebounds and two blocks. In fact, the nine rebounds were a season-high.

He then made his impact offensively, scoring six of Marquette’s 13 points in the second half. Otule finished his afternoon by grabbing an offensive rebound–his 11th of the game–and scoring after Davidson pushed their game-high lead to nine, 49-40. Including that bucket, Marquette outscored Davidson 19-9 to win the game.

(USA Today Sports Images)

(USA Today Sports Images)

Key play: Things looked bleak for Marquette late in the second half, as the Golden Eagles had missed seven straight shots and trailed by nine after a quick 5-0 Davidson run. But off a Junior Cadougan missed layup–one in which Otule sealed for him–the fifth-year senior had the awareness to turn and follow up the miss, tip in Cadougan’s miss. It started Marquette’s historic run to end the game.

Wow factor: Otule had gone 88 career games without recording a double-double, so “wow” is the only way to describe his 11-point, 11-rebound performance in this tight-knit NCAA Tournament game. The four blocks tied a season-high, and he did an outstanding job on Cohen, who finished with just one rebound in 29 minutes. Marquette also won the rebound margin by 15, 38-23.

Historical precedent: There aren’t too many NCAA Tournament performances that relate to Otule’s outside of Jae Crowder, who couldn’t be more different than Otule himself. Instead we found Ousmane Barro, who grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in a win over Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament. Like Otule, Barro did his work in just 25 minutes, and he added six points on 2-of-3 shooting. Close enough.

Closing time: Otule sat the last 150 seconds of the game, when things really got interesting, but his version of “closing time” came on the offensive end when he tallied those six points early in the second half. His defensive work in the first half was expected, but the offensive aggressiveness he showed off late in the Big East season came to a peak during this stretch. It really rounded out his career-best performance and helped a struggling offense.

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Categories: 2012-13 Review, Analysis, Home, Offseason

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