After getting over their two losses to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, the Marquette Golden Eagles have turned into a bit of a pest for opposing teams. After a victory over Georgia Tech on Thanksgiving, they followed that up with a strong performance in a loss against Michigan State. So much so that Spartans head coach Tom Izzo went so far as to applaud the toughness of the Golden Eagles.
Sunday, their stay near The Happiest Place on Earth left their fans with many smiles, as they defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 67-59. The big performer of the game was Duane Wilson, who dropped a career-high 29 points whilst shooting 52.9 percent. The freshman guard, a Milwaukee native in his own right, was terrific in the late moments, as he knocked down a 3-pointer to effectively push the Golden Eagles' lead far enough to keep the Vols out of striking distance.
Armani Moore led the way for Tennessee with 18 points. The Vols were not spectacularly efficient, Guards Kevin Punter and Josh Hubbs combined for 16 points, but despite these efforts, it simply wasn't enough to cool down Marquette on Sunday afternoon.
3 Things We Learned
1. Marquette was able to withstand an early onslaught. "Weathering the storm" gets thrown out a lot, but Tennessee started this game on fire and it's rather stunning how Marquette was able to rebound. The Volunteers got out to a 17-6 lead early in the first half, but the Golden Eagles were able to flip the script. Wojo's squad was able to outscore their opponent 55-34 the rest of the way, which is very good news for this team. That they're able to take a few punches, and completely change the complexion of the game, is helpful going forward as their schedule will only get tougher from here on out.
2. The Golden Eagles found a way to compensate for Carlino's struggles. Matt Carlino had been one of the best players in this Orlando Classic in the first two games. But on Sunday, Carlino was not able to find the rim. He only took five shot attempts all game, and wasn't distributing in great amounts, having just three assists. Luckily, Duane Wilson was able to step up with his terrific performance. With Carlino arguably being the best scorer on this team, if he's having an off night Marquette will need to lean on someone else to get the offense going. Sunday, they were able to do that, and that should hope to be a consistent theme for this squad going forward.
3. Another team did not shoot well from the perimeter against Marquette on Sunday. Georgia Tech couldn't get it going from the perimeter on Thursday night, and Tennessee wasn't able to on Sunday, either. Marquette held the Vols to a 15.8 percent mark from the 3-point line on 19 attempts. This while still being ranked 301st in 3-point defense coming into the game. Whether or not this will continue to be a trademark for this team going forward is up in the air. But, as it stands, it's a promising look for them.