MILWAUKEE — One moment of confusion almost cost Trent Lockett the opportunity to feel good about his best performance in a Marquette uniform.
Lockett has no idea why he chased Georgetown forward Otto Porter on a drive to the hoop. In a normal situation Lockett did the right thing, but the Hoyas were down three with under five seconds to play. Allowing a layup would have been just fine.
But instead, Lockett reacted and helped and when Porter kicked it out to Lockett’s man in the corner, he had to book it out and in the process fouled Hoyas forward Greg Whittington on a three-point attempt.
Whittington sunk the first two, but missed the third. In other words, Lockett could breathe easy because he was off the hook.
“God was on my side today, I tell you,” Lockett said.
There’s a constant debate whether an NFL coach calling a timeout to ‘ice’ the kicker really works. Saturday, Marquette coach Buzz Williams successfully iced Whittington. After the sophomore hit the first two, Williams called a timeout. With the rhythm Whittington was in, he probably would have sunk the third without the timeout.
“Coach Buzz is a tremendous coach,” Lockett said. “He called the timeout to ice him. I’m sure (the foul) was weighing heavy on his mind but the way he stepped up and hit those first two, I was not so confident he was going to miss the third one but I was sure glad he did.”
Williams called Lockett’s performance Saturday “awesome.” The senior transfer from Arizona State finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three blocks and played outstanding defense.
Lockett looked more like the player that was All-Pac-10 for Arizona State and he said one play really brought back old feelings. Taking the ball aggressively to the hoop on the baseline, Lockett threw down an athletic dunk that garnered quite the reaction from the crowd.
“It gave me comfort,” Lockett said. “That’s kind of my game and it’s good to kind of have that to get me into the flow of things.”
He won’t talk about it: Saturday marked the return of Williams to the Marquette bench after serving a school-imposed one game suspension for recruiting violations committed by a former assistant coach.
Williams wouldn’t address the suspension and his feelings of being away from the team and his return because he said he’s not great at being politically correct.
While their coach wouldn’t address it, the players knew how much it hurt him to be away from his team for 48 hours.
“Buzz loves us,” point guard Junior Cadougan said. “He wants (to be) around us like all the time. He treats us like his sons. That’s great to have a father-son relationship with a coach, knowing that you trust him and he trusts you. We’re just like one family.”
Unlikely candidate: How many basketball teams — high school, college or professional — want a 6-foot-8, 290 pound player taking free throws with the game on the line?
There’s probably not many, but Marquette is one of them.
The Marquette student section chants “automatic” when Davante Gardner gets to the line, and while that’s he’s not quite automatic, he’s pretty good for a big man.
Other than Todd Mayo’s 90 percent free throw percentage in just four games, Gardner leads the Golden Eagles at 84.1 percent.
When a recent opponent was called for a technical foul, Gardner stepped up to take the free throws. Cadougan admitted that he’s never played on a team where the power forward or center has been the guy the team wants at the stripe.
“We believe in him,” Cadougan said. “Davante has great hands and he has great touch. I want Davante on the line at the end of the game.”
The ability to knock down free throws makes Gardner incredibly valuable to Marquette, but a hard cover to opponents. Because of his size and skill, if Gardner catches in good position, he’s either going to score or get fouled most of the time.
“Both of their big guys are very impressive and they are both big,” Georgetown coach George Thompson III said of Gardner and Chris Otule. “They do a nice job of sealing for drives for their teammates as well as getting possessions for themselves. Gardner is particularly effective. He’s a good passer as well as a good scorer. He’s big.”
Doing the little things: Maybe it was karma for hitting a 30-foot buzzer-beater to force overtime or maybe it just was the length of Georgetown’s defenders.
Whatever it was, Cadougan struggled to score Saturday, making just 1 of his 10 field goal attempts. But it’s getting to the point where the senior point guard doesn’t have to score to make an impact offensively.
“I don’t have to score for us to win,” Cadougan said. “Just being the vocal leader out there and just running the team (is enough).”
During the second half, Cadougan put an outstanding move on Georgetown guard Markel Starks and appeared to have an easy fast break layup but Hoyas forward Jabril Trawick somehow got back to block the shot.
“I thought it was just me and the rim,” Cadougan said. “I don’t know who blocked it, I think it was (number) 55, but he came out of nowhere. I was shocked. I just had to run back on defense.”