After watching a few Marquette games so far this season, I have to say that I really like this teams' quick hands and lock down defense. The only problem is that they seem to breakdown with about three minutes left in the first half, then get in a hole at halftime, and just can't get the whole way out of the hole in the second half. Against Duke on Monday they were down nine at half, but ended up only getting beat by five. Number one in the nation Duke was just too big, and were able to hold on for the 82-77 win.
Mason Plumlee just couldn't be slowed down by the smaller Marquette team. Plumlee finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Six of his rebounds were on the offensive end. When is the last time Marquette had a true big man like that? It has been awhile, so this has been an on going thing for them. They always have good strong/physical forwards that will battle hard, but sometimes the size just costs them enough points to make it hard for them to win. Duke took it to Kansas State Tuesday night, so Marquette should feel good about how they played the Blue Devils.
On Tuesday night Marquette played well the whole first half against Gonzaga, until about the final few minutes. Gonzaga went into a zone defense, and that just messed Marquette all up. They were unable to score, and the Zags hit some big three's. Marquette fell again behind nine points at halftime. They had a chance late to tie it with a three, but Jimmy Butler couldn't get it to go. Gonzaga held on for the 66-63 win over the Golden Eagles.
So it wasn't a good week for Marquette's record, but the week should go a long way for their confidence. They were beaten this week by the 1st and 18th ranked teams in the nation by a combined score of eight points. I think they should have learned a lot this week about themselves. What they need to do know is start finishing out halves better, and keeping up this tough defense.
Lets take a look at some guys who put up good numbers in these two games for Marquette.
* Jimmy Butler pulled a Brandon Jennings, who always seems to have 6 assists every game, because in both games he put up the same amount of points with 22 points in each game. He also had six rebounds, and one assist in both games. Kind of crazy, but true, so lets hope he can maybe get over the 22 points hump this season.
* Jae Crowder is someone to keep an eye on. He seems to have some huge upside already in this young season. The guy just has quick hands, and seems physical enough to shut down any big man that the other teams throw out there. Against Duke on Monday he had four steals, and he finished with five steals against Gonzaga. Coming off the bench he had\s played a huge role so far this season. He also can score a little with 15 points against Duke, and 10 points against Gonzaga. I really feel he will be the X-factor for how this team will do this season.
* Darius Johnson-Odom has to start making more three pointers. He had some open looks in both games, but was unable convert on them. He finished the two games 3-13 from downtown, so he has to improve those numbers. Buzz is sticking with him, but if his numbers keep falling he may find himself on the bench more.
* Marquette was 4-20 from downtown against Duke, and 6-21 from downtown against Gonzaga. Sounds like they will live and die from the three this season. Looks like they will have to make about 9 or 10 a game to beat the more powerful teams.
Marquette had a chance to beat a Top 25 team this week, and that will always help your rating at the end of the season for the big dance. Playing in the Big East they will get many other chances to play big games, but would have been nice to get one of these wins this week. The good news for the Golden Eagles is they didn't get blown out of the water by either team, which showed they showed that they are not going to be an easy win any night. They will get time off for Thanksgiving before they head back on the court Saturday against UW-Milwaukee.