Marquette Basketball: Highs and Lows of Golden Eagles' Season Thus Far
Marquette has certainly had its ups and downs through the season's first two months. Marquette entered this season as the favorite for the inaugural Big East, though its title contender status has been removed for the time being.
Villanova and Creighton have played the best basketball in the conference, followed closely behind by Xavier, before rounding out the top half of the league with Marquette and Georgetown. The Golden Eagles will need to gather quality wins over the next two months to help pad their NCAA tournament resume.
High: Win vs. Grambling State
Despite Grambling State's 1-12 record, Marquette's 114-71 win over Grambling State to improve to 2-0 was an impressive one. In that game, the Golden Eagles shot 55 percent from the field, while holding their opponent to a 29 percent clip.
Eight Golden Eagles scored in double figures that night, led by a double-double effort from Steve Taylor Jr., who scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. All 11 active scholarship players played at least 14 minutes, with leading scorers Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner playing the least of the bunch.
Low: Loss vs. Ohio State
Just four days after the Golden Eagles dropped triple digits on Grambling State, the Ohio State Buckeyes held Marquette to only 35 points. The Golden Eagles and Buckeyes went to intermission tied at 19 before OSU outscored MU 33-16 after the break.
Marquette's starting lineup combined for only 12 points, while Todd Mayo and Gardner each reached double figures, combining for 21 points. In the contest, Marquette shot a dreadful 19 percent from the field and 1-of-18 from behind the arc. It also allowed Aaron Craft to nearly compile a triple-double, as the senior guard's stat line consisted of 10 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
High: Win vs. George Washington
On November 29, Marquette defeated George Washington 76-60 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy Tournament. So far, GWU has only lost on two other occasions: at Kansas State and La Salle. The Colonials, led by Indiana transfer Maurice Creek, are making a serious case for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament with their 14-3 record to date.
Marquette took control from the opening tip, leading 46-25 at halftime. Gardner led the way with 20 points but was helped with surprising scoring contributions from Jake Thomas, Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson who tallied 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Marquette connected on 8-of-15 shots from long range in the semifinals before bowing out to San Diego State in the championship game that Sunday.
Low: Loss vs. New Mexico
On December 21, the Golden Eagles hit the court in Las Vegas to take on the New Mexico Lobos. Marquette came out hot from deep, taking a 37-30 lead to the locker room. The second half was a different story, as the Lobos scored 45 points to Marquette's 31.
New Mexico freshman and coach's son Cullen Neal scored a career-high 24 points, while Cameron Bairstow and Deshawn Delaney each double-doubled, despite the Golden Eagles' valiant effort to shut down Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk. Thomas, Jamil Wilson and Mayo each reached double-figure scoring, though the team's record fell to 7-5 and marked its fourth single-digit defeat on the early season.
Low: Loss @ Butler
On Saturday, Marquette journeyed to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on the Butler Bulldogs. Butler entered the contest with an 0-5 conference record, while also having four overtime losses on the season. Saturday's game also went to OT, though this time the Bulldogs came out victorious, winning 69-57.
Marquette held a 12-point lead midway through the second half, but failed to produce any offense late in regulation and in overtime. Gardner led the way with a double-double effort, scoring 17 points and piling in 10 boards, while Derrick and Jamil Wilson each contributed 13 points. Marquette is currently 10-8, including a 2-3 record in the Big East. The Golden Eagles have only won one road game all season and are primed for the NIT unless major changes occur.