"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Marquette Wallops UConn

In its inaugural Big East opener, the Marquette Golden Eagles blitzed the UConn Huskies, upsetting the nation's second-ranked team 94 - 79 at the Bradley Center.

Marquette was led by senior Steve Novak who delivered 41 points and 16 rebounds, both career highs. Novak, the 6'10" senior sharpshooter, proved to be an impossible matchup for the bigger Huskies as Calhoun's big men failed to make adjustments and take him out of rhythm. Keyed by consistent dribble penetration from Jerel McNeal and Dominic James, Novak repeatedly took advantage of open looks. In the process, Novak set a conference record for points in an initial Big East appearance.

Marquette started slowly to open the game, but used a 12-1 run midway through the first to regain its footing and carried that momentum to a 39-33 lead at the half. In the first half, Dominic James and Jerel McNeal combined to shoot 2-19 from the field, but Novak and fellow senior Joe Chapman, with eight first half points, paced the Golden Eagles' attack.

Chapman finished with 12 points. Jerel McNeal finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, a career high.

The Golden Eagles effort was highlighted by contributions from an impressively deep bench as well. Jamil Lott, Dwight Burke, and Ousmane Barro teamed with Ryan Amoroso to outplay UConn's frontline. Surprisingly, Marquette outrebounded the bigger Huskies, 43-38.

MU was sublime at the free throw line as well, cashing in on 24 of 28 opportunities. UConn struggled mightily at the line going only 17-35.

Here is the reaction from the Big East Basketball Roundup.

Here is the GoMarquette box score from the game.

Here is the ESPN box score from the game.

Here is the Associated Press recap of the game.

Here is the CBS Sportsline recap.

Here is an article by Jeff Shelman for ESPN.

Here is Todd Rosiak's recap, which notes that Novak's "combination of 57 points and rebounds was the most ever in a single game in the 27-year history of the Big East, bettering the previous mark of 55 set by Georgetown's Mike Sweetney in 2002. His 41 points were also the most scored by a player making his Big East debut, blowing out of the water the old record of 30 held by Notre Dame's Troy Murphy and Georgetown's Allen Iverson."

Here's the Hartford Courant which quotes Calhoun as saying, "This was an old-fashioned butt whippin'"


Anonymous said...

Good and Bad

Good: MU won!

Bad: Every Big East team will be bringing their A-Game when they face MU. I don't know if this MU team is THAT good...

Illiniwonk said...

Very nice win tonight. I've watched UCONN play a couple of times and they looked almost unbeatable. I guess I (and everyone else) was wrong.

TB said...

thx for the kudos, IlliniWonk.

Last night was a big win for the program.

Good luck to your guys this season -- heck of a start by the Illini

Anonymous said...

I think worrying about other teams bringing their A-game to MU is foolish. It's the Big East for God's sake.

Finally, Crean made some moves in the second half that really helped too. U Conn was forcing James to go left all first half. In the second, he had McNeal bring the ball up and then dish back to James. It opened things up for both to penetrate and dish and open up a big lead.

Kudos also to Burke, Lott and Barro. All three contributed a ton.

Let's see if they can do it again vs. Cinci on Saturday. Putting consecutive wins vs. UConn and Cinci would be a great, great achievement for this up and coming team.

Anonymous said...

Great win by Marquette. UConn needed that wake-up call. Still the team to beat come March, including that team from the ACC.