"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 11, 2011

Warriors take the fight out of the Irish

What a difference a few days can make.

After turning in the worst defensive performance of the Buzz Williams era just two days earlier, Marquette re-emerged as a Big East contender last night. With new-found defensive toughness and a wicked-good offense the Marquette Warriors dominated 10th ranked Notre Dame on Monday night winning 79-57.

The Warriors put four players in double figures led by a career-high 21 points from Dwight Buycks, who was a perfect 5-5 from 3-point range. Jae Crowder finished with 18, Jimmy Butler added 15, and Darius Johnson-Odom chipped in with 13. The Fearsome Foursome keyed a dominant offensive performance for MU which hit on 53% of its shots overall and nearly 71% from deep (12-17). The efficiency geeks are still panting over MU's breathtaking eFG% of 65% (78% in the 2H!).

All of that offense is fine but the real difference last night was defense. MU played with an edge defensively and it showed. MU held the sweet-shooting Irish to a paltry eFG% of 42%. Notre Dame came in with a national top 15 offense -- averaging over 1.15 points per possession (ppp) -- and the Warriors held them to 0.90 ppp, the Irish's third worst offensive performance of the season. This was easily MU's finest defensive performance against a quality opponent this year.

Struggling from the field from the opening tip, Mike Brey's club could not free up leading scorers Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis. The duo, which combines to average more than 32 points per game, finished with a total of 19 points on just 17 attempts from the field. Marquette's defensive scheme forced the Irish to rely on third, fourth or even fifth options offensively and ND was not equipped to keep pace.

The moral of the story is that Marquette can play defense after all. Let's see them do it consistently.

Let's pile on. The loss was Notre Dame's most lopsided defeat in nearly three years -- and that loss also came at the hands of the Warriors. Marquette buried the Irish 92-66 on January 12, 2008.

With the win MU moves to 12-5 on the season and 3-1 in Big East play. Next up for Marquette is a trip to Louisville on Saturday.

Box Score
AP recap
Rosiak blogs a recap
Roiak's recap from the paper
Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune recaps the Irish clunker
ESPN has a video post-game extra

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