Thursday, February 13, 2020

Green's five takeaways from Marquette's 76-57 win over No. 19 Butler

 Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch- USA TODAY Sports

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

On National Marquette Day, the Marquette Golden Eagles (17-6, 7-4 Big East) put together a well-balanced effort in a 76-57 win over the No. 19 Butler Bulldogs (18-6, 6-5 Big East) to split the regular season series. Here are my five takeaways from Fiserv Forum for CSO.

1) The John force shift:

With the first 11:30 seeing 10 lead changes and more plot twists than a reality TV show, Marquette’s Theo John changed the complexion of the game with a roaring block on Butler’s Jordan Tucker. The block resulted with flawless transition on the other end capped off by a three-point make from the wing by Brendan Bailey to put the Golden Eagles up 26-21.

Marquette led for the remainder of the game and while John’s stat sheet (four points and seven rebounds) is not anything eye-popping, the under-the-radar play was something coaches LaVall Jordan (Butler) and Steve Wojciechowski (Marquette) discussed.

“[Theo] has really improved. We came up here his freshman year when Tyler Wideman was a senior and looked like he had great promise. We are seeing his development now and his ability to impact games on the glass. He did it early with a couple of offensive boards and then had seven blocks at [Hinkle Fieldhouse] earlier this season. He’s got a presence down there and helps their defense,” Jordan said.

“Theo’s shot blocking has been momentum plays for us. When Jayce [Johnson] and Theo are playing well, it is such a shot in the arm for the team. The shot blocking and the ability to protect the basket really energizes our group,” Wojchiechowski said.

2) Bailey and McEwen steal the show:

While Markus Howard has proven to be the ultimate three-point threat, Marquette has looked for other players to step up as Koby McEwen and Brendan Bailey answered the challenge.

McEwen and Bailey combined for 8-of-11 from three-point range and finished with 16 points each. The peak of the run came in a 1:17 stretch in the second half where the pair combined to make three consecutive makes from long range to increase Marquette’s lead to 62-45 and never looked back.

“Every 9-0 stretch is big and I thought we had so many guys step up and make crucial plays. That group was phenomenal that was on the floor when he had that run. Koby hit two big threes and Brendan hit one. Brendan was terrific throughout the game with his rebounding and obviously his shooting,” Wojciechowski said.

3) Baldwin’s second half flurry not enough:

In the first meeting of the season on Jan. 24, Kamar Baldwin scored 29 of his 31 points after halftime in an 89-85 overtime win against Marquette at Hinkle Fieldhouse. After a slow start in the first half of Sunday’s game, the senior found his groove, but would not be enough despite going for a game-high 23 points.

Jordan knows the sluggish effort would likely not result in a win in any Big East game and showed on the court against Marquette.

“You do not get to play well and have a guaranteed shot of winning in the Big East,” Jordan said. “Marquette played better and Wojo had them more prepared than we were. We have to play better and it is as simple as that.”

4) Quiet McDermott:

Sean McDermott had a day to forget for Butler as the sharp-shooter finished 0-of-5 from the field and held to two points in 34 minutes of action.

On top of the quiet night from the senior, the Bulldogs could not get into a rhythm from long range as they went 4-of-20 (20 percent) with Baldwin converting three of those shots.

5) National Marquette Day:

Marquette fans and alumni celebrated the annual National Marquette Day and were treated to a Sunday helping of basketball. Wojciechowski appreciated the turnout despite the 11 a.m. CT tip.

“National Marquette Day is always very special. It is a little bit earlier and on a different day this year, but true to form, Marquette fans showed up and showed out and it was as good of a college basketball environment as any college basketball player could hope to play in,” Wojciechowski said.