The tournament ends so suddenly, this time in a game in which MU played well enough to win in every aspect of the game except shooting.
Last year Crowder’s late trey against Syracuse tied the game, and then DJO’s dagger sealed the win that got MU one step further than expected. Today already in the Sweet 16 but hoping to go at least one more level than expected as a 3-seed, MU fought back from a first half that saw Junior Cadougan and Jae Crowder on the bench in foul trouble and had their chance on a crucial stretch may have been from the 7:33 mark to 6:09 mark. After Crowder scored to cut the deficit to 52-44, MU came up with three stops and then worked for three open looks from beyond the arc, with Crowder missing two and DJO missing one.
Three trips that could have given MU a 53-52 lead instead saw MU still down 8 points.
It summed up a night in which MU had a slight edge on three of the Four Factors that decide games until a couple of offensive rebounds by Florida near the end:
|FT% getting to line||27.7%||25.4%|
It seemed Florida could beat Marquette if they could turn them over or nail treys. In fact, Marquette turned the ball over only 12.4% of their trips, and played tight defense on the arc, holding the top three-point shooting team in the country to only 28.6% from beyond the arc. The 10-point difference was rather the result of Florida’s decided edge on 2-point shots and free throw shooting, with Florida’s 9-3 edge in blocked shots raising the question of whether or not the absence of Chris Otule finally caught up with Marquette.
|FT% getting to line||66.7%||86.7%|
Todd Mayo keys one last run for the seniors
Still, it was a freshman – Todd Mayo – who tried to prolong the senior season for DJO and Crowder with one last run.
Florida seemed to have put the game away with a 58-45 lead with 4:30 to play. Crowder got to the line and hit two free throws to make it 58-47 with 4:15 to go.
Just 14 seconds later, Crowder grabbed a rebound and got it ahead to Mayo, who drove to the hoop to make it 58-49.
Then 33 seconds later with Erving Walker holding the ball at half court, Mayo poked the ball into the back court, dove to get to the ball before the lightning fast Walker, and called timeout before Walker could tie it up for a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring the Gators.
Off the timeout, Cadougan fed a quick pass to Mayo who nailed a trey to make it 58-52 with 3:20 left, a 7-0 run in less than a minute.
That was as close as Marquette could get. They did it one more time when Crowder finally hit his first trey in seven attempts with 1:30 left to make it 61-55, but Florida continued to nail free throws and the careers were over for both seniors – each of which fought through tough defense and some misses for 15 points.
As I have noted in the past, college basketball always ends on a bad note. You either don’t make the tournament or lose in the tournament eventually – sometimes just on a night like this when the shots just don’t fall. Thanks for the great seasons and careers of DJO and Jae, and we all hope the Draft Express Projections are right and we hear both of your names called in 97 days. Whether or not that happens, someone is going to get to see you both play in the D-League, Europe, or hopefully the NBA.