With 8:30 left in the game, JP stood at the free throw line. As he eyed the rim, the Marquette student section rose as one and began Gator chomping the Muskies talismanic senior. JP jarred them both. Marquette never led again.
They could have, though. After the students tapped the glass, Marquette tied it. On his next touch, JP hit a three to let them know who was doing it to them. The game went back and forth for a couple of minutes, then Markus Howard had it on a run out to tie the game with an easy layup. They had already made JP mad though.
Q hit a couple of free throws and then had a steal and a run out - which he converted - to stretch the lead to six. Marquette hit back with a couple of threes to tie it with two minutes to play. Back-to-back assists from Tre - the second for a back-breaking corner three from Kaiser - gave Xavier a five-point lead they would salt away from the line. By the time Markus Howard hit a three from the corner to beat the buzzer, Xavier was already home and dry.
How about some takeaways?
Naji Marshall is for real
At some level, we probably already knew this. But with Xavier getting killed by Jamal Cain (?) in the 1-3-1, Coach Mack went man and stuck the freshman on Marquette’s Andrew Rowsey. Marshall took Rowsey out of sync and took it at him on the other end. Nothing about anything Naji has done this year has indicated that he is cowed by the big stage. If you thought the transition to Big East play might slow him down, tonight showed that it apparently won’t.
Opponents don’t fear Paul Scruggs
When your team relies heavily on a couple of 5’11” guys and they both have two fouls early in the first half, you could be in trouble. Marquette found itself in that situation tonight, but, when Quentin Goodin went out, Coach Wochiehowski was content to let Andrew Rowsey play man defense on Paul Scruggs. Scruggs, despite being bigger in every dimension than Roswey, didn’t take it at him. Rowsey got comfortable and splashed a couple of threes at the other end.
I know Paul Scruggs is learning the Big East game, but he has to be able to take it to guys who aren’t his match physically. Tellingly, Marquette went right into a zone as soon as Quentin Goodin came back into the game.
Forgot about Tre...
How about a 23/6/8 line from my man? That’s a heck of a game on the road in a contest that came down to the last minute.
How about a 6-16/1-8/10-11 shooting line from my man? That performance from the line was enough tonight, but X is going to need better from deep from Tre going forward. I don’t know what to make of his recent shooting, but I’m not concerned... yet.
The Big East is back
Holy cow. Non-conference was for fun. This is for real.
Marquette is a legit team, and Xavier just got their best punch at their place. It doesn’t get easier from here, except for that home date against DePaul. I love this conference.