Despite virtually every ESPN commentator telling the audience they felt MU would make the tournament even with a loss to Providence, MU played like they were in an elimination game and dominated Providence 87-66 to leave no doubt.
MU took a 20-2 lead, but knowing the Friars had scored 100 to almost rally from a huge deficit in last year's opening round, MU kept the pressure on the best player in the league, Marshon Brooks. While Brooks made spectacular shots and passes as always, Butler contained him again by holding Broooks to an ever lower percentage this game (7 of 18) than their first match-up (7 of 16).
Despite stretches of ridiculous shooting by Vincent Council (6 of 9 treys) that cut the lead to 7 at one point, MU simply willed its way inside with a 49-31 advantage on the boards and resultant 59.3% shooting.
While the win locks up the NCAA bid, Marquette also kept enough fresh legs to potentially be competitive for a couple of nights in the Big East tournament this year. Last year MU had such little bench that despite a great showing the back-to-back-to-back games left no legs in a blowout loss to Georgetown. However, tonight's box shows why they could have fresh legs to potentially beat West Virginia tomorrow at 8 p.m. and perhaps even go further:
|Junior Cadougan, G||24||2||2||5||1||4|
|Vander Blue, G||16||2||7||0||0||4|
|Jae Crowder, F||27||4||4||2||1||10|
|Davante Gardner, F||17||3||7||1||0||9|
|Jamail Jones, F||5||1||0||0||0||3|
Oh, I'm sorry, that's the box score for MARQUETTE'S BENCH! You want see Erik Williams because he had another nice START to give MU some height. An MU team with height and a bench? Wow, the potential is there.