Marquette's first win over a ranked team came on Monday as the golden eagles stunned Notre Dame with a barrage of three-pointers and ultimately a 79-57 victory. MU improved to 12-5 on the season and 3-1 in the Big East with the win.
The game was close in the first half, with Marquette leading by 4-7 points for most of it. In the second half, Notre Dame couldn't keep pace with Marquette's shooting and the rest is history. The fighting irish were simply outplayed in this game. They'll be looking for revenge when MU comes to South Bend for a rematch on January 22.
A lot of good things to talk about with this victory. In case you missed Monday's game (shame on you), here's what you should know:
Marquette was absolutely on fire from beyond the arc. The golden eagles shot an astonishing 71% on three-pointers, something they haven't done this well since 2001. Every three-pointer just seemed to go in during the second half, and that's what lead to MU pulling away from the irish in convincing fashion. Not to mention, offense like that is a lot of fun to watch! On the other hand, ND was horrendous from long range, only going 3-16. ND's two stellar shooters, Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis, were a collective 1-4 from long range. The irish got plenty of open looks but they just weren't falling. Combine the performances from each team into one game and you end up with a lop-sided victory.
Dwight Buycks had a career night with 21 points and an impressive 5-5 from the perimeter. What made his performance even more incredible was that he took several three's that were very difficult shots, but it just didn't matter, as the hoop was 6 feet wide for him that night. Jae Crowder contributed to the three-point fest as well going 4-6, but was also his usual self in the paint with a lot of key points down low. Chris Otule was a key presence in the paint as well, not only for easy deuces, but also helped create open looks for Crowder and Butler when collapsing the defenders.
This is the second conference game where Marquette has beaten a team that utilizes a 2-3 zone. I'm hoping that the Tom Crean curse of losing against zone teams has finally withered away and we can hang with these guys. Maybe we've got a shot at finally beating Syracuse? I know, wishful thinking. But at least you can hope.
And last but not least, remember that awful defensive performance against Pitt on Saturday? It looked like a distant memory in this game. Marquette did a phenomenal job on the defensive side, picking up defenders off of screens and forcing Notre Dame to take more outside shots. All in all, MU only allowed 0.9 points per defensive possession (they average 0.95). Nice work boys, keep it up.
Just a couple points to note despite the big win:
One, Notre Dame is much better than they let on to be Monday night. They got plenty of open looks but simply had a poor shooting night. Conversely, Marquette had a phenomenal shooting night, and even made a lot of low-percentage shots. These two factors would certainly revert to the mean if they played 9 more times. But hey, I think we could beat these guys 6 or 7 times out of ten.
Two, Marquette absolutely needed this win to stay alive in the Big East. With the next couple weeks proving to be horrendous, this victory was one that gave us some much-needed momentum going into this stretch. You can celebrate for now, but there will be a serious wake-up call if we don't take down a few more of the top-tier Big East teams.
Lastly, you think Notre Dame will remember this game when we come to South Bend in 2 weeks? Absolutely. They'll be more than ready to get revenge against us on their home turf, so we better be ready for the dogfight.
Marquette's next game is at Louisville Saturday morning. Bloody Marys anyone?