Eagles overcome slow start to down Cardinals

Eagles overcome slow start to down Cardinals

Published Jan. 16, 2012 4:00 a.m. ET

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Trailing by 16 against Louisville just 7 minutes into the game, Marquette coach Buzz Williams tried something new during a timeout as he tried to figure out a way to reverse another of his team's slow starts.

He said nothing.

"I literally said nothing the whole time," he said.

His silence worked wonders as the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles rebounded with a 32-12 run to grab a four-point lead by halftime en route to a 74-63 win over the 23rd-ranked Cardinals on Monday.

Marquette (15-4, 4-2 Big East) won its third straight conference game after losing consecutive games to Georgetown and top-ranked Syracuse. The Golden Eagles have made a habit of starting slow in many of its league games.

"If the games were 33 minutes, we'd be really good," Williams said. "I really like when we are us. When we are us, we're pretty good. When we are not us, we're pretty bad."

Darius Johnson-Odom scored 19 points and DaVante Gardner added 17 points and six rebounds to lead Marquette.

Johnson-Odom believes the players have to figure out how to start games faster or it is going to hurt them as the team continues Big East play.

"We've got to get out of that," he said. "It's been working, but I don't think we want to continue that going forward."

Johnson-Odom said his teammates did not get rattled by Louisville's fast start.

"We knew had plenty of time to rally back," he said. "We had to get stops and slow them down."

A big part of the comeback was the play of Gardner, starting in place of center Chris Otule who is out for the season with a left knee injury.

Gardner hit several key shots in the second half and got fouled. He also made all seven of his free throws.

"He's a horse down there in the paint," Johnson-Odom said. "He's very crafty around the basket. When we get him the ball, a lot of good things can happen."

Jae Crowder added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette.

Louisville (14-5, 2-4) has now lost three of its last four Big East games, including a 90-57 drubbing by Providence.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said his team's hot shooting start -- opening 7 for 12 from the field, including four 3-pointers -- put it in a great position.

"When we do make shots like we did in the period, we look great," he said.

Russ Smith led Louisville with 20 points and Chris Smith added 19 points and eight rebounds. Chane Behanan had 12 rebounds.

Russ Smith said the Cardinals knew Marquette would make a run.

"Being one of the older players, you have to realize that this is their home court.," he said. "Eventually, they're going to make a run and get back in the game."

Louisville trimmed Marquette's lead to 57-53 with 8:16 remaining when Gorgui Dienge scored on a short jumper.

But Gardner scored on a driving layup and was fouled as Marquette beat Louisville's press. He hit the free throw to give Marquette a 60-53 lead with 7:36 remaining.

Louisville went without a field goal for almost five minutes after that as Marquette pulled away. Louisville hit only four field goals in the last eight minutes of the game and only six of the team's last 18 shots.

Overall, Louisville hit just 41.3 percent of its shots for the game.

NOTES: Louisville's Rakeem Buckles left the game midway through the first half with a left knee injury after getting tangled up with a Marquette player going for a rebound. He did not return to the game and was diagnosed with an hyperextended knee. ... Louisville G Kyle Kuric missed his second straight game after injuring his ankle on the first play of practice last Thursday. ... Marquette hit 16 of 18 from the free throw, while Louisville hit only 4 of 10.