"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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

ROAD WARRIORS! Marquette wins 5th straight on road, last three in OT

With Dwight Buycks at home in Milwaukee sick, and Erik Williams and Junior Cadougan combining for only three minutes, Marquette basically had to go 45 minutes with only six players against 10 for Seton Hall. No problem – even with Jeremy Hazell scoring 11 points in overtime, MU won their 5th straight road game including third in overtime in the last eight days. With the win, Marquette joins Syracuse as the only team to win 5 straight Big East road games this year. The only five teams to win more than two straight road games this year are:

1. Syracuse 8 (chance for 9 against Louisville)
2. Marquette 5
3. Villanova 4
4. Pittsburgh 3
5. Louisville 3 (will try to make it 4 at Marquette Tuesday)

While Buzz won’t want to hear this - the win goes a long way to ensuring an NCAA bid. The win clinched a first round bye in the Big East tournament, which eliminates any chance of an embarrassing loss to DePaul in the opening round. Now the worst case is for MU is to close with losses to red hot Louisville and Notre Dame teams and a team coming off a first round win in the Big East. Winning even one of those three would certainly guaranty a bid, as no Big East team has ever been denied a bid after a 20-win season, and even with two more losses MU would finish the season 9-3. (Last 12 games is not an official stat anymore, but the Selection Committee looks at the final stretch of however many games they believe are relevant).

MU also cracked the RPI top 50 with the win today, improving to 49th, while the winner of the MU-Louisville (33rd RPI) game Tuesday will have their 20th win and take over sole possession of 5th place in the Big East. A double bye is unlikely, as MU would have to win both and West Virginia lose at home to Georgetown and at Nova to end their season. (OK, Pitt could lose at home to both Rutgers and Providence, but really…)

At halftime of the CBSSports telecast of Lville’s two-point win at UConn, commentators speculated that the Big East could get nine invites with the recent losses by bubble teams.

For the third straight game MU pulled out the overtime win despite the road rims being cruel on the 3-pointer. MU entered the road swing first in the country on 3-point percentage, but had fallen to 5th. Today MU hit the first 6 treys of the game, but went 3 of 19 the rest of the way.

Cubillan to the rescue when treys stop falling

The answer was an unusually aggressive David Cubillan, who drove through the defense three times in a row for contested inside baskets, and then with 14:49 left in the game did it for a fourth time and turned it into a 3-point play when fouled. It was also Cube who broke MUs stretch of 10 straight missed threes when he hit two in a row with 7:41 and 5:22 to go in the game. He then started the overtime with another 3-pointer just 25 seconds into overtime to lead to give MU a lead they would never give up. Speaking of which, just how good is Lazar Hayward at winning jump balls? He won both the opening tip-off and the overtime tipoff again to set up Cubes OT trey.

MU again overcame getting dominated inside, making another big man look like an All-American as Jeff Robinson went 11 of 15 inside to score 25 points as Seton Hall won the boards 35-22.

Lazar’s steal at 1:31 saves game as MU wins turnover battle

However, in a battle between the two best teams in the conference at the turnover battle (MU +4.3, SH +3.7), MU again won the turnover battle behind 7 steals. None was bigger than when Jordan Theodore led a 3-on-1 break with the score tied 65-65, and with 1:33 left in the game Lazar made one of his patented steals. The big man with the quickest hands around flicked the ball out of Theodore's hands and off the guard's thigh, then took the ball away for a steal to save the day. (an almost identical play to his strip of Greg Monroe to preserve the Georgetown game).

Lazar also rejected three shots – I’m not sure the last time an MU player did that.

Even with Buycks out, 6 players contribute scores

But once again the story was balanced scoring. Joe Fulce hit both of his shots, and the five other players scored at least 13 points.

Cube, Hayward, Butler, Fulce and DJO all hit at least half of their two-pointers, and Acker went 2 of 4 on 3-pointers to stay right at 50% on treys.

Again, MU was money at the line, hitting 10 of 12 in overtime to maintain the lead against Hazell’s barrage despite not having a field goal after Jimmy “Money” Butler’s shot with 3:24 to go. He led the free throw effort with a 7 of 10 game, and his drives to the hoop now make him 6th in the country in free throws taken.

Hayward (23 points), DJO (16) and Cube (16) combined to go 13 for 21 on two-pointers, normally a weakness for MU. The biggest was from Lazar, who went between two trees to put in a tough inside shot with 33 seconds left in regulation.

Box Score


Bill Waldron said...

>>Erik Williams and Junior Cadougan combining for only three minutes<<

A little more than that, actually (but not much more).

Smoove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smoove said...

Road Warriors, indeed! WOW! The MU Spirit Shop best call in all its help for Tuesday, 'cause everybody's wanting to sport the Marquette gear these days. Mrs. Smoove will be at the Spirit Shop before the game, because she knows how the Cardinals fans love to make the home team "see red."

Unknown said...

And Crean just lost his tenth in a row at IU!