Marquette continues to win in 'ugly' fashion
MILWAUKEE -- Seton Hall came to the BMO Harris Bradley Center with only eight players dressed. One of those players didn't even have the name sewn on the back of his jersey.
Picked to finish 15th in the 16-team Big East and already 1-3 in league play, the Pirates were ripe for the picking. If Marquette was going to blow anyone out in conference play, Seton Hall was it.
But Wednesday turned into another one of those grind-it-out games Marquette has become so accustomed to this season. And again – against an inferior opponent – the Golden Eagles did just enough to pull out a 69-62 victory to move to 4-0 in conference play.
Marquette has won its four conference games by a combined 21 points with two coming in overtime.
"I just think it is going to be a grind," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I think it is going to be ugly. I don't think anything we do is pretty.
"I don't think we are great. Honestly, I'm not sure what we are good at, at times. But if we can be good at winning, maybe that will be good enough."
And the Golden Eagles have been good at finding ways to win games. But Marquette could very easily be 0-4 in conference play, as well. A missed shot here, turnover there and things would be very different.
But in a day and age where teams below the elite level aren't seperated by much, the good teams are the ones that can win ugly. Marquette has proven it can and might be getting good at it.
Williams' quote may make it seem like his team went through the motions and won based on talent alone. That was far from the case. The Golden Eagles led from start to finish – even when the Pirates came charging, catching fire in the second half and hitting seven 3-pointers.
Seton Hall cut the lead down to one at one point and kept charging back but Marquette answered each time and didn't let the Pirates break through.
A lot of the credit can be given to sophomore guard Todd Mayo.
Mayo scored all 12 of his points after Seton Hall cut it to 40-39 with 9:09 to play. The final dagger that put the game out of reach may have been Mayo's falling down, NBA-range 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to put Marquette up 60-48.
Though Mayo hasn't played as many minutes as he might have gotten if it hadn't been for his academic ineligibility in the first semester, his team hasn't lost since he's been back and Mayo has found a way to make critical plays in almost all of the wins.
"I appreciate him hanging in there," Williams said. "Whether he plays 30 mintutes or 3 minutes, it's not about him making shots. It's about him continiuing to learn.
"I think how he played in the second half always calmed the run they were on. They made seven threes. I thought he made timely baskets."
Though it hasn't been very easy, Marquette has quickly transformed itself from a team that could have gone either direction a month ago, to starting to believe in itself.
"It's been a (very) hard build," Williams said. " ... I think our guys are much more aware of time, score and momentum now.
"It's still a long time to go. It's an eternity left but I think we are in a much better space in terms of understanding how we need to live over the last two weeks than we were maybe a month ago."
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