MERNAGH: MARQUETTE WIN AT WISCONSIN WAS HUGE & OTHER NCAA BASKETBALL NOTES
Marquette was undefeated coming into their game at Wisconsin yesterday.
But like a lot of undefeated teams from Big Six leagues, that mark of perfection was perceived as little more than beating up on inferior competition…and for the most part that perception was accurate. The ex-Warriors pounded Winthrop by 22 and Ole Miss by 30 in the Virgin Island tourney they won, but a lot of folks were waiting to see how they’d fare when they traveled to Madison before stamping a seal approval on Buzz Williams’ bunch.
Well, consider them stamped. Wisconsin was 157-11 in the Kohl Center over the last ten years before yesterdays contest. Marquette, playing without suspended point guard Junior Cadougan, made sure that record changed to 157-12 after their 61-54 win.
There’s an awful lot to like about Marquette, but the fact that they went into Wisconsin and accomplished what they did without Cadougan speaks volumes to the mental toughness and ability of this group. Freshman Derrick Wilson played 20 minutes at the point without committing a turnover. Vander Blue responded to the drama of his return to Madison by making plays at crucial times while on his way to 9 points and 8 rebounds in 33 minutes. Todd Mayo is a freshman but played like a vet as he and his counterpart Blue form an attacking duo that will be hard to deal with for a few years going forward. Mayo finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes while fellow rookie Juan Anderson made the most of limited minutes (7) by grabbing 5 boards and getting a bucket plus a free throw. Anderson kept two possessions alive with offensive rebounds and Devante Gardner put up 8 and 7 in 14 minutes.
Darius Johnson-Odom made plays to the tune of 17 points and 5 boards while Jamil Wilson hit a big three-pointer as he continues to find his way in the Marquette rotation. Jae Crowder was in foul trouble and limited to 24 minutes of action. Buzz Williams was happy with the win but made the point that there’s little time to dwell on it — “we have another big one on Tuesday,” he said in a text message this AM.
And he’s right as MU travels to New York to face Lorenzo Romar’s Washington club Tuesday evening.
Marquette will have plenty more big one’s as the season continues. Their win at Wisconsin is probably the most impressive win yet for a Big East team in the young season.
Marquette’s for real, look for them to challenge for the Big East crown and to make a strong run in March.
They’re far too talented, and mentally tough, not to.
Pitt’s win at Tennessee, without Travon Woodall, was also a big win. The Panthers struggled in the first half but got big baskets down the stretch from Ashton Gibbs, Lamar Patterson and John Johnson to hold off the Vols.
Ryan Boatright’s debut at UConn was certainly worth waiting for as the stud freshman went for 23 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block during the defending champs 75-62 win over Arkansas. Arkansas’ own rookie standout B.J. Young dropped 28 on UConn in 27 minutes (kid can go).
Kentucky beat Carolina 73-72. Kentucky had Terrence Jones in the first half and then they had Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the second. Kidd Gilchrist was an absolute beast while Doron Lamb hit two huge three’s in the second half and Anthony Davis came up with the final block. The biggest shock to me was that Carolina acted like the young group following Davis’ rejection –there was still 4-5 seconds left and the Heels just flat-out stopped playing instead of fouling. Kentucky is only going to get better — and they’re already damn good. That game yesterday was simply a great basketball game.
Also…be sure to check out the podcast over on the right-hand sidebar where NBE’s Raphielle Johnson welcomed Brian Bosworth, the National Recruiting Analyst for NBE. Bosworth covered the National Prep Showcase earlier in November and gave his thoughts on the action with scouting reports and some of the latest recruiting buzz from many of the top players at the loades event. Make sure you scroll down the main page to catch some of his coverage from the event as it was 1st class (and free) all the way!