Marquette sets program record with 53 free throws in win over Southern

Fifty three. That’s the total number of fouls and free throws Marquette attempted in its 63-56 win over Southern Friday night. Get used to it.

Thanks to an emphasis on “opening up the game,” the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel made it a point of emphasis for officials to start calling games tighter this season.

The results, in Milwaukee and across the country Friday night, were pretty gruesome at times.

“It goes back to how we were all taught to play,” coach Buzz Williams said. “You play with your feet, not your hands. It’s fairly explicit now. When your hands get involved now, it’s a foul.”

Davante Gardner echoed Williams’ sentiments, though he thinks officials won’t call games as tightly as the season goes on.

“In the scrimmages, we’ve been trying to go through (the) rule, but I think later on in the season, I think the refs will back off of it because that’s when the games get more intense,” Gardner said.

The NCAA, for their part, have said they intend to call the same fouls in the NCAA Tournament that they are calling now.

To review, the following types of personal fouls should be called consistently:

  • When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent;
  • When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent;
  • When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent;
  • When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.

The Golden Eagles went to the line a team-record 53 times, making 33 of them. The 33 makes were seven off another team record (40), which was set against Creighton on Feb. 7, 1955. The previous program record for free throw attempts was 50 against Savannah State on Nov. 21, 2003.

In fact, Marquette attempted more free throws (53) than field goals (36).

Southern, on the other hand, was 6-of-16 from the free throw line.

“We always want to make more (free throws) than they attempt,” Williams said. “We did that. In years past, we’ve wanted to make 22 free throws. I told our old guys, I would say that we probably need to try to make 22 free throws in the first half and the second half tonight.

“I was being a little bit over exaggerating, but maybe I wasn’t. Because we should have made 44 free throws.”

Gardner led the Golden Eagles with 25 points, with 18 coming in the first half. Todd Mayo chipped in 20 and Jamil Wilson added 10. Combined, they scored 55 of Marquette’s 63 points.

Gardner’s 25 points were one off his career high (26) set last year against Syracuse, when he went 7-of-7 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line.

Mayo’s total was two points off his career high of 22 set in his freshman year of 2011 against Northern Colorado (Nov. 12).

Marquette won’t be able to rely on those three every game this year, but the results were impressive tonight.

Wilson was the only starter of the three and Gardner could very well win the Big East Sixth Man and Player of the Year awards is he can sustain this level of play throughout the season.

It’s important not to jump to conclusions after one game, but Buzz Williams can’t be happy that his other four starters scored a combined five points.

With a tilt against Ohio State looming in just eight days, Marquette is going to have to find a way to get more out of the seven or eight players not named Wilson, Gardner and Mayo.

Chris Otule, Jake Thomas, Steve Taylor Jr. and Derrick Wilson did little to help on the offensive end and Otule didn’t look like himself on either end of the floor.

For his part, Williams said the lineup he put out was due in part to some players getting out the nerves of playing the first game of the season.

“It’s hard in your first game to get through that first wind and everybody is sitting there on the bench going ‘I wonder when I’m going to get to play,’” Williams said. “So let’s just hurry up and get through all of that. And then let’s see where we’re at.”

By the 16-minute mark of the first half, Marquette had already used nine players.

In fact, Marquette’s starters scored just 17 points. And the Golden Eagles shot 3-of-17 from the floor in the second half, with Mayo making all three field goals. The rest of the team was 0-of-12 from the floor.

Southern’s Malcolm Mitchell, the SWAC Preseason Player of the Year, led the Jaguars with 14 points.

A number that Williams was impressed with, at least in the first half, was the Golden Eagles turnover percentage. Marquette turned the ball over just six times in the first half and 14 times for the game. Southern had 17 turnovers.

“In order for us to have a chance to be a really good team, we need to get one shot at least per possession,” Williams said. “Defensively, we need to allow a maximum of one shot per possession.

“We’re not going to be able to turn the ball over at the rate that we were able to last year. We’ve been fairly sound in that throughout our careers here, but we’re going to have to be better than we’ve ever been I think, because we need to get a shot. If you get a shot, there is a potential that you will get fouled.”

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