Well LL Cool J.... It was a comeback. Marquette rallied from a 16-point second half deficit to top USF 59-58 tonight in Tampa. The Warriors were down by as many as 11 in the first half and fell behind 40-24 with 17:18 remaining in the game, showing no signs of life. MU fans on Twitter were in a full-on meltdown, falling off the bandwagon at a record pace before the service mercifully ground to a halt (perhaps unrelated, perhaps not).
Nevertheless ..... from that point on the Warriors outscored the Bulls 35 - 18. The run was keyed by an aggressive, pressing defense (!!!!!!!!!) which forced 17 USF turnovers on the night and woke up MU's slumbering offense.
The Warriors' second-half offensive surge was highlighted by Buzz Williams' multi-talented forward combination. Senior Jimmy F. Butler, who struggled through the game's first 30 minutes, scored eight points and handed out a key assist during a six-minute stretch late in the second half.
But it was Jae Crowder who delivered the knockout blows. The Predator nailed a step-back three with 4:26 to play push MU into the lead 54-53, capping a frenetic 30-13 run. After the teams traded baskets Crowder nailed another step-back three to push the MU lead to 59-55 with just 1:36 to play.
From there the Warriors nearly gave the game away, missing six consecutive free throw attempts in the game's final 1:03. Ultimately USF's inability to handle MU's pressure - the Bulls coughed the ball up twice in the final 45 seconds -- was the difference in the game's uncomfortable final stages.
Butler finished with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists. Crowder had 14 points and four rebounds, while Joe Fulce was the only other Warrior in double figures with 10.
With the win Marquette improved to 15-9 on the season and 6-5 in the BIG EAST. USF fell to 8-17 and 2-10.