The golden eagles got their first conference win and quality win of the season with a 79-74 victory over West Virginia (who beat Vanderbilt earlier in the season, by the way). This game was a tight one most of the way, but MU managed to get timely scoring, a steal, and defensive rebound down the stretch to secure the victory. Marquette has improved to 10-4 on the season and 1-0 in conference play.
Marquette jumped out to an early 9-0 lead in this game with a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder and steals and resulted in layups on our end. West Virginia quickly got back in the game through great shooting. The game was very tight the rest of the way, with neither team leading by more than 5 points. West Virginia had a great shooting day from beyond the arc, but MU won the battle on the offensive and defensive boards. With Marquette up by 1 going into the final minute, Jae Crowder came up with a big steal that lead to making one of two free throws. Darryl Bryant was then called for a loose ball foul on West Va's next possession which gave Jimmy Butler 2 free throws. After Butler made one of two, West Virginia missed a 2-pointer with 13 seconds left and Jimmy Butler came up with the board. Butler made both of his free throws to put the golden eagles up by 5 with 8 seconds to go, and the rest is history.
Marquette out-rebounded West Virginia 32-24. They also minimized their fouling throughout the game with just 12 fouls vs. WVA's 18. The double-bonus proved to be crucial for us in the final minute since Jae Crowder missed the first of his two free throws, which could have resulted in a turnover had we been in single bonus. This was also a victory against a team that utilizes a 2-3 zone defense, something MU has struggled against in recent years.
Jae Crowder had a career morning (anyone else think that phrase is strange?) with 29 points, 8 boards, and 4 steals. Again, he just seemed to be in the right place at the right time for a lot of put-back shots, which is where most of his scoring came from (starting the game off with a 3-pointer didn't hurt either). DJO had a monster second half and ended up with 21 points for the day on 8-15 shooting. The 15-foot jumpers really clicked for him in that half.
Marquette's 3-point defense. West Virginia had good ball movement which caught Marquette players out of transition in defensive switches which created a lot of open looks for the mountaineers. West Virginia shot 47% overall from 3-point land which kept them in the entire game.
Driving 90 miles to watch a 10 am basketball game on New Years Day. Never again, Marquette. Never again.
On a side note, Jim Burr managed to make his way up to Mil-town to referee MU's second game in a row. Despite one or two no-calls, Burr was fine in this game (he has done something like 16 Final Fours so I can't give him too much crap).
Marquette's next match-up is at Rutgers on Wednesday at 6:30 CST.