Mayo rises to the challenge, spurs Marquette win over Butler

Todd Mayo scored all of his game-high 17 points in the second half on Tuesday, fueling a Marquette victory.

Jeff Hanisch/Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Todd Mayo has shown flashes of being the weapon Marquette needs offensively, but like this year’s Golden Eagles, the junior guard simply hasn’t been consistent.

With the game slipping away from Marquette in the second half Tuesday, Mayo got on one of those rolls that leaves everyone longing for more.

It was just what the Golden Eagles needed in the here and now, however. Mayo scored all of his game-high 17 points in the second half, including seven points in a game-changing 11-0 run, to lead Marquette to a 69-62 victory over Butler at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Marquette coach Buzz Williams just shook his head and had no answer for a question inquiring about how to explain how Mayo can disappear for games and then bounce back with dominating stretches.

"I think Todd is playing for the right coach, I think Todd is playing at the right school, I think Todd has grown up a lot," Williams said. "I think Todd is misunderstood, partially because it’s his fault and partially because it’s the people that are judging him’s fault.

"I tell you what, when the chips are down, for whatever reason, it seems as though throughout his career you can always count on him."

Tuesday’s game alone could describe Mayo’s career to this point. He took no shots in nine first half minutes, but made 7-of-10 in the second half and took over the game.

Marquette was down, 43-33, with 13:03 to play only to go on a 17-7 run to even the score on a Mayo 3-pointer. He scored seven straight points in a one minute, 31 second span.

"I just needed to see one go in," Mayo said. "After that I was just going to attack and keep attacking.

"I’m a streaky scorer. I just have to get into a good rhythm. When that rhythm comes I feel like I can’t really be stopped."

Butler coach Brandon Miller agreed. He said Mayo is a player that can get going with just a couple of made shots.

"When he makes shots, he’s difficult to defend," Miller said. "When he shoots the three well, all of a sudden you have to press up on him. Obviously he can drive the ball, finish around the rim and make plays for his teammates. He had it going, especially toward the end of the game.

"I think he’s better when he’s comfortable. He reached a comfort level in the second half of the game."

Golden Eagles 69, Bulldogs 62

So what gets Mayo into that rhythm?

"Just being on the floor more, a little bit longer," Mayo said. "Just to get a good sweat going. I’m getting a little bit older and a little bit smarter. The difference from my freshman year was I was always coming off the bench just shooting. The value of the possession of the game is very (important). I’m trying to just come in and just get a sweat going first and then start attacking."

Williams described Mayo, who entered averaging 9.2 points per game, as a player who knows exactly where players need to be and should be on the court in every situation, but Mayo struggles when he’s thrown out of his comfort level.

"He’s got a lot of stuff that he works through emotionally to be able to get in that rhythm," Williams said. "You have to be very delicate in how you manage that."

The aggressive and productive version of Mayo has led directly to two wins for the Golden Eagles and almost got them an upset over Villanova. He scored 19 points in a one-point victory over Seton Hall and took over late against the Wildcats to force overtime.

But then there’s been games where he’s struggled to provide much. Mayo scored just four points in an overtime loss to Butler, scored just six at Georgetown and didn’t score and took just one shot in Marquette’s loss at St. John’s last Saturday.

"When the chips are down he seems to show up," Williams reiterated. "But I’d like him to show up all the time. He had four turnovers at St. John’s in the first half and didn’t do much or play much in the second half.

"When he starts good, it typically trends toward it’s going to stay good or get better. When he starts bad, it’s delicate because he feels the stress of, ‘I know I have to be good.’ Sometimes that takes some time for him to work through."

Otule’s streak snapped: Marquette sixth-year senior center Chris Otule has been a fixture in the starting lineup when healthy, so not seeing his name listed with the starting five was a bit of a surprise Tuesday.

But Williams had a reason for ending Otule’s consecutive games started streak at 57. He received a phone call at 3 a.m. Monday morning from a sick Otule. The campus health center didn’t open until later in the morning, but Otule received two bags of I.V. fluid and was still ill Tuesday.