Wayne Chism keyed a decisive Tennessee second half run as Marquette fell short on the road tonight, losing 80-68 in Nashville. With the loss the Golden Eagles fall to 8-2 on the season.
The teams were tied at the break. After exchanging baskets early in the second half, MU went on a 6-0 run to push ahead 48-46 with 10:44 remaining thanks in part to the swarming 1-3-1 defense that worked equally well against Wisconsin earlier this season.
This time the momentum was short-lived.
Following a desperate Tennessee timeout, Dominic James bailed out the Vols when he fouled 6'9" Wayne Chism in three-point territory with just four seconds left on the shot clock. Chism hit a pair of free throws kicking off an 8-0 Volunteer run, pushing the Volunteer lead to 54-48 with nine minutes remaining. Marquette was never able to get closer than two points for the rest of the game.
Lazar Hayward's three-pointer with 2:20 remaining capped another 6-0 MU run which cut the Volunteer lead to 70-68, but Tennessee responded with a Josh Tabb three-pointer to extend the lead to five and the Vols soon salted the game away.
Surprisingly, during the key second half run by Tennessee, Buzz Williams declined to go back to the 1-3-1 zone which worked so well earlier in the game, opening the door for Chism's huge second half. Chism finished with 26 points, 21 in the second half, more than double his season average of 10. Marquette surrendered 48 second half points to the Volunteers.
Marquette wasted a Yeoman's effort by Wesley Matthews who wound up with a career-high 30 points. Matthews was a one-man wrecking crew, scoring 20 of Marquette's 36 second half points.
Jerel McNeal turned in his worst performance of the season finishing with 10 points before fouling out with 5:33 to play. Dominic James finished with 8 points on 3-13 shooting. Lazar Hayward had 14 points.
A few other observations:
- Wesley Matthews not only gets to the line, but actually sinks his free throws (Matthews was 15-18 from the line). The rest of the team combined for a disappointing 9-17 from the charity stripe. Here's the box score.
- In today's Journal-Sentinel, coach Williams explained that foul trouble as a major factor in the game. It was, but his decision to put Jerel McNeal back into the lineup late in the first half where he promptly collected his third foul contributed to the problem. McNeal played only 25 minutes before fouling out.
- Tennessee connected on 49% of their shots for the game. MU's lack of depth and height is clearly a factor in the team's porous defense so far this season.
- As problematic as the defense appears to be, MU's offense was ineffective last night as the Golden Eagles routinely settled for jumpshots. A startling 52% of Marquette's field goal attempts were three-pointers (25 of the team's 48 attempts). Marquette connected on 32% of those shots (8 for 25), and shot only 38% for the game overall.
- For the game, Marquette made only ten two-point field goal attempts (five in each half).
- Despite McNeal's foul trouble, David Cubillan played just one minute. Considering he blew two defensive assignments, it was one minute too long.