No wardrobe malfunctions this evening. In a performance that even Janet Jackson would admire, FITZ IS TITZ. In what's become a tradition, the Marquette Golden Eagles soundly defeated the DePaul Blue Demons by a final score of 62-47 at the Bradley Center on the strength of 18 points by Dan Fitzgerald.
Marquette, which has beaten DePaul in 26 of the last 32 meetings, was led by the extraordinary play of Dan Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald poured in a career-high 18 points on 6-7 shooting from 3-point range, admirably stepping up on a night when Steve Novak was ineffective due to injury.
The Golden Eagles and Blue Demons both opened the game in sloppy fashion, battling to an 18-18 tie. DePaul's offense struggled to produce points, but the Blue Demons stayed in the game on the strength of seven second chance points early.
Marquette soon hit its stride, and raced to a 36-24 lead at the break, on the strength of an 18-6 run to close the last seven minutes of the half. The run was keyed by the spectacular shooting of Fitzgerald, who drained four three pointers during the stretch. Incredibly, Steve Novak failed to score in the first half, while Fitzgerald accounted for a dozen.
In the second half, Marquette used an explosive 12-4 run to stretch their lead to 54-36 with just under eight minutes to play. Dominic James, Dan Fitzgerald and Ousmane Barro all delivered during that stretch, which was made all the more painful for the Blue Demons following Sammy Mejia's game-ending injury late in the first half. DePaul was simply lost without him.
Dan Fitzgerald led MU with a career high 18 points in 30 minutes of action. Dominic James chipped in 12 on six of eleven shooting. James also had seven assists. Jerel McNeal was solid, with 11 points and seven rebounds. Ousmane Barro contributed seven points and three boards in 14 valuable minutes. Steve Novak, hobbled by an ankle injury, scored a season-low five points.
With the win, MU moves to 5-2 in Big East Conference play and 15-5 overall. MU will hit the road for three of their next four games, starting with a visit to Pittsburgh on Saturday at 11am CDT. Marquette has won 9 of their last 11 games.
BTW, in Coach Crean's post game comments he sounded certain that Wesley Matthews would return to action in February, "hopefully sooner than later".
Many thanks to Jim McIlvaine for the gratuitous mention of the blog in today's post-game recap!
Post Game Comments from Tom Crean, courtesy of Marquette84:
- Last week against DePaul three things didn’t go well in the 2nd half: Lost the defensive intensity, didn’t block out or rebound well, and rushed the offense—fixed all those things tonight.
- Team played 40 minutes of defense, good rebounding, got good looks.
- DePaul’s defense closed off the middle so the drop offs weren’t there, however team recognized it and the kickouts were working.
- DePaul is a solid team—difference tonight is that we didn’t let them make it close.
- On the lineup with four 6’9 players: We’re evaluating. Let Jamil play defense on the perimeter. Not a lot of offensive options with that lineup because guys are out of position, but we’re trying to prepare for the rest of the league—experimenting with different ways
- Fitz is a tribute to the coaching staff—he’s out there working hard on shooting after practice.
- At times, Fitz played the point with James in the game—why? Give James a chance playing off guard. Make it interesting, fresh and exiting. Not trying to mess with the game, just play a lot of different lineups, make them think, react in different ways. Keep things fresh.
- Jerel McNeal made great plays—DePaul took away the middle, team reacted well.
- Pitt plays a tough defense—toughest, most complete team in college basketball.
- Turnovers were a key. Team did a great job holding down the turnovers.
- James beginning to get good at recognizing when to run and when to pull back.
- Matthews: No target date, but sometime in February. Perhaps by the middle. Not going to rush things.
Here is the AP recap.
Here is the gomarquette recap.
Here is the gomarquette boxscore.