No. 12 Marquette 79, UConn 64
Marquette outrebounded and outhustled a much bigger Connecticut
team on its way to a 15-point road win that keeps the Golden Eagles
in position for a double bye in next month’s Big East
Jae Crowder had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Darius
Johnson-Odom added 24 in the 79-64 win, the 10th in 11 games for
No. 12 Marquette (22-5, 11-3 Big East).
”It’s a jubilant locker room,” said coach Buzz Williams. ”I’m
extremely pleased with our hearts and our instincts and the
intellect of our team.”
Johnson-Odom and Crowder combined for 29 first-half points as
the Golden Eagles ran out to a 43-29 halftime lead.
UConn (16-10, 6-8) cut that to four points early in the second
half, but lost its momentum when guard Ryan Boatright was called
for technical foul during a timeout.
”I think that was the turning point,” Johnson-Odom said. ”We
were able to get two free throws and the ball back and Jae hit a
big three after that.”
Marquette, which lost 6-foot-11 center Chris Otule in December
and 6-8 Davante Gardner last month, both to knee injuries, had just
seven scholarship players available and nobody over 6-7. But they
outrebounded UConn 33-30, including 20-13 in the first half.
They also hit 10 of 22 shots from 3-point range, with Crowder
and Johnson-Odom each hitting four.
”We start a very quick lineup and we wanted to find a way to
get very easy transition points,” said Johnson-Odom.
Jeremy Lamb had 19 points to lead Connecticut, which fell to 2-3
in the five games coach Jim Calhoun has missed with back
A 3-pointer from Lamb and a dunk by Alex Oriakhi helped the
Huskies on a 10-1 run that cut the lead to 48-44.
But after Marquette called a timeout, Boatright began chirping
at Marquette guard Todd Mayo and picked up the technical foul. Two
free throws followed by Crowder’s 3-point shot brought the lead
back nine at 53-44.
”It’s just immature,” said UConn guard Shabazz Napier, a team
captain who called out his teammates after the game.
”I’ve got to question a lot of these guys’ hearts,” he said.
”It just looked out there like we gave up at the end.”
A driving layup by Crowder led to UConn center Andre Drummond’s
fifth foul, and the free throw gave Marquette a 75-63 lead just
under 3 minutes to play, ending any threat from the Huskies.
”(Crowder) is the heart and soul of our team,” said
Johnson-Odom who had 16 of his points before intermission. ”He
does a lot of things for us – rebounding, defending, getting
steals, whatever he does, it helps us a lot.”
Marquette, which has never finished better than fourth place in
the Big East, came in tied with Notre Dame for second place in the
conference. The top four teams get a double bye in the
”Winning five games in a row is tough,” said Crowder. ”UConn
did it last year, so it’s possible, but with that double bye you
have a greater chance, so that’s what we’re striving for.”
The Golden Eagles have won four of their last five games in
Connecticut and three in a row. The road team has won the last five
meetings between the two schools.
Connecticut beat DePaul by 26 points on Wednesday, but has now
lost seven of its last nine games and has won just four times since
Coach Jim Calhoun has missed eight games so far this season,
three because of an NCAA suspension for recruiting violations and
the last five after taking an indefinite medical leave with spinal
stenosis. The school has said he will miss at least one more game,
Monday night at Villanova.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine, normally associated
with aging and sometimes with arthritis. Calhoun is currently
trying non-surgical treatments, and expects to know if they are
successful by the middle of next week.