Louisville turns over No. 9 Marquette in 84-71 win

Marquette’s short stay at Madison Square Garden was a total

mess.

Kyle Kuric scored 20 points, Peyton Siva added 18 and Louisville

forced the ninth-ranked Golden Eagles into a season-high 26

turnovers, advancing to the Big East tournament semifinals with an

84-71 victory Thursday night.

”I’m not sure that they’ve had a better meal all year long than

what we served them tonight,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

”I did a really bad job.”

Wearing a new set of bright orange, neon-looking uniforms, the

seventh-seeded Cardinals flashed their quick hands all over the

court and held Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder to 10 points

in 31 foul-plagued minutes.

Marquette entered as the top-scoring squad in the league at 76.1

points per game. But the defense of Chane Behanan and reserve Jared

Swopshire made it a very tough night for Crowder and his

teammates.

Next stop, the NCAA tournament.

”You just clear your head, wait for the opponent that you’re

going to get matched up with come Sunday and find out what they

like to do,” Crowder said. ”But at the same time work on what got

us to this point. I feel like we’ll be fine once we get back to

what we do and study the next opponent and get back to them, and

we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Russ Smith and Behanan each scored 12 points for Louisville

(24-9), which will play No. 23 Notre Dame, the third seed, on

Friday night.

Darius Johnson-Odom had 23 points to pace No. 2 seed Marquette

(25-7), blown out by Louisville in the Big East quarterfinals last

year as well. The Golden Eagles trailed by 15 just 6 minutes in and

never took the lead. They are yet to make it past the tournament

semifinals since joining the league for the 2005-06 season.

”We were here last year, the same spot against Louisville, and

I thought everybody was mentally focused. We were ready,”

Johnson-Odom said. ”We didn’t bring enough energy in the first

half, and they just took us apart. A lot of it is on ourselves. …

We have to learn from what happened.”

Siva had another outstanding all-around game at point guard,

piling up eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. He had 14

points and six steals in a 61-55 victory over Seton Hall on

Wednesday night.

Smith also was a pest, snatching five of Louisville’s 14 steals.

No wonder Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday night that his

squad is one of the best defensive teams in the country.

”The style, we go up and down. That’s what Coach wants us to

do,” Behanan said. ”All the teams we played so far in the Big

East, they expect us to slow it down. So now coming in, we agreed

we were going to play up and down like we (were) in the Bahamas.

We’ve just got to get used to it and attack everybody the same way

in each game. That’s how we’ve been getting up. That’s it.”

Junior Cadougan coughed up the ball a team-high eight times and

the 26 turnovers by Marquette, which averaged only 12.8 all season,

were one shy of the Big East tournament record. The Golden Eagles’

previous high this season was 17.

Marquette overcame an 18-2 deficit at home to beat Louisville in

their only other meeting this season, and the Golden Eagles fell

behind early again. This time, Louisville’s swarming defense was

too much to overcome.

”They kept hounding us,” Johnson-Odom said. ”I think we had

an idea that they were going to pressure us. I didn’t think it was

going to be at a high level like that.”

Crowder shot 4 of 13 but did grab 12 rebounds for Marquette,

which had won its first Big East tournament game the past five

years.

Vander Blue’s layup cut it to 54-50 with 13:29 remaining, but

Kuric drained a 3 and Smith hit a pair of free throws with 11:22 to

go. Marquette never got closer than seven again.

It was the fourth time in five years that the No. 7 seed beat

the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals at the Big East tournament.

The Cardinals, who won the 2009 tournament title and lost to

Connecticut in last year’s championship game, scored 50 points in

the first half – their largest output in a half this season. They

finished with 26 offensive rebounds and 23 points off

turnovers.

”It never seemed to be in sync,” Williams said. ”Seemed like

we just kept passing the mic at a karaoke bar and I’m not sure of

the words – you try. We were kicking the ball everywhere. They were

taking it from us, just no good, never in rhythm, never in

sync.”

Swopshire had eight points and 12 rebounds in 20 minutes for

Louisville, which held Marquette to 2-for-13 shooting from 3-point

range in a game that had a much faster pace than most in this

week’s event at Madison Square Garden.

Jamil Wilson had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for

Marquette.

Just like their previous matchup, Louisville jumped on the

Golden Eagles from the opening tip. The Cardinals forced nine

turnovers in the first 10:14 and opened a 21-6 lead on Behanan’s

jumper with 14 minutes to go in the first half.

Marquette trimmed it to 34-33 on Wilson’s putback with 3:57 left

in the half, but Kuric’s 3-pointer started a 16-7 run that sent the

Cardinals into halftime with a 50-40 advantage.