"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

Monday, December 22, 2008

DJ's shot puts MU in the victor's circle

My update will be limited as I missed most of the game traveling today. I was able to catch the last 16 minutes of the second half in the freezing cold outside while viewing the broadcast online via a wireless connection (not sure who's connection I borrowed in the neighborhood, but it was open and password free....maybe someone in the bandwidth giving mood for Christmas) with my son...painful...and beautiful all at once.

In a nutshell, this was a below average ACC team from last year who has looked pretty good this year, including a narrow loss at Davidson. The Wolfpack were 7-1 heading into the game, including 6-0 at home. The game marked Marquette's first road game of the season, less than two weeks before BIG EAST play.

MU trailed by three at the break, and the game was close for most of the second half until the seniors took over...all of them. In the last eight minutes it was the seniors' time to shine.

It started with MU trailing 52-50 with 8:44 remaining when Dominic James found an open Wes Matthews in the corner for a three pointer. The senior nailed it putting MU up 53-52. After NC State tied the game, DJ juked the Wolfpack defender badly for a layup to put MU back up two points. A few moments later, senior Jerel McNeal was fouled but made both free throw attempts to open up the a four point lead. After an NC State bucket, another senior, Dwight Burke, was not to be outdone. Burke went hard to the basket only to be fouled. The 40% free throw shooter stepped up to the line and rattled home both shots to push MU back up 59-55 with 5:16 to play.

The next 90 seconds would be the DJ show as he made back to back three-point bombs to put the Golden Eagles up 65-59 and forcing a timeout by NC State with 3:26 to play. The game seemed to be in MU's control but the Wolfpack resfused to back down. An NC State three-pointer out of the timeout cut the lead to three. Then a missed MU jump shot led to another Wolfpack three-pointer, tying the game was tied at 65-65 with under two minutes to play.

The next minute was not one the seniors should hang their hat on. After a foul on junior Lazar Hayward, another foul was called on Jerel McNeal giving the Wolfpack two free throws. State did not take advantage by bricking both attempts. Soon, the Wolfpack would be given another opportunity after DJ was called for a travel by sliding his pivot foot, but again State could not take advantage.

Now with less than a minute to play, MU moved the ball to Lazar Hayward on the left wing where he missed a mid range jump shot to take the lead with :48 remaining. NC State rebounded and tried to go down low for the lead. A great defensive play by Dwight Burke and James forced a turnover with 25 seconds left. Buzz Williams took a timeout to setup the final play.

On the inbounds play, DJ was given the ball. He yo-yo'd the ball back and forth down to 15, down to 10, down to 7 and still nothing. He made a break toward the right sideline and was cutoff, he then reverse dribbled to the left and launched a three-pointer that was golden with 0.4 left. MU up 68-65. WOW. Not exactly the most elegant play but DJ made it work. What a spectacular moment for the senior, clutch.

NC State had to make a miracle play to go to OT and almost did. The Wolfpack threw the inbounds pass to the top of the key where they turned and launched a near three-pointer....GOOD. Fortunately for MU, the shooter's foot was actually on the line and the shot was not released until after the horn sounded (edit: thanks, commenters).

The win marks only the fourth in MU history in the state of North Carolina, moving MU's record to 4-25 all time.

Buzz Williams
is the ONLY MU coach with a winning record in the state of North Carolina at 1-0.

With the victory MU moves to 10-2 on the season. MU's next game is December 28th against Presbyterian at the Bradley Center.


Rosiak's recap article

Rosiak's excellent recap blog detailing James' history as a clutch performer and much more.

Raleigh News & Observer on MU's buzzer beater stunning the Wolfpack.

AP Recap with video



Bill Waldron said...

Gotta love your (and your son's) dedication to seeing the game. Guess you need one of the portable satellite setups ;-)

One minor correction -- the shot that the NC State player launched just after the final buzzer would only have been a two-point basket anyway -- one foot inside the line.

-- Tampa Warrior

Unknown said...

Nice recap of the game. Small typo "hand" not "had" in the bottom paragraph. And finally, I am impressed with the laptop working in sub-freezing temps.

TB said...

now that is some kind of dedicated blogger!

Spam Dunk said...

why didn't you just go to buffalo wild wings like a normal person?

Unknown said...

It was a great game to watch (indoors), but, while James did have a good game, he still needs to show that he can make those shots consistently. He still over-jumps on his jump shot and has poor form so I think those are always better shots from McNeal, Matthews, or Hayward, but today he was the man and it was a good victory.

Nice to see that the game coaching contributed to the victory as well... nice job Buzz!

Well done Warriors!

JohnPudner said...

Dominic was huge. I think we've gotten spoiled with such a great run of guards for 20 years - but James is special even if he never shoots (and his 35.6% from three-point land is fine). You are talking about a POINT guard who has as many steals as turnovers. Of the couple of hundred guards playing in a BCS conference, I can only find 5 other guards who have 20+ steals and more steals than turnovers (Gause-Seton Hall, Downey-S. Carolina, Kramer-Purdue, Warren & Nolan -Mississippi.

James eliminates the ability to press MU, and has dished out 65 assists (11th best of any BCS player) against only 24 turnovers. It looks like the string of great guards will continue with the recruit from Canada, but I think even James' critics are really going to miss him when we are getting pressed. Watching him on ESPN-U last night (yes, they've now suckered me into buying ESPN FullCourt and ESPN-U by putting an MU game on it), James was in complete control on both ends of the court even before he started shooting.