The Marquette Golden Eagles hedged their way to an above .500 record on Tuesday with an impressive victory over Arizona State Sun Devils in Milwaukee, 78-71.
The attention was centered in on the arrival of 6-foot-11 transfer Luke Fischer. The big man from Germantown, Wisconsin wasted little time in getting acclimated with his newfound surroundings as he provided quite the impact for MU against the Sun Devils. Fischer scored 19 points and added nine rebounds, giving Marquette a much-needed boost down low. If what we saw from Fischer continues on this season, an interior scoring threat for the Golden Eagles could make them much more divisive on offense.
Fischer was not the only bench player to burst out with a big performance, either. JaJuan Johnson scorched Arizona State, dropping 22 points whilst going an efficient 10-for-16 on field goals. Johnson also was 2-for-2 on free throws.
It was a very tough night for a usually potent Sun Devil offense. In the BMO Harris Bradley Center, ASU shot just 38.7 percent on 62 attempts. They went 8-for-21 from the 3-point line, meaning they shot just 39.0 percent on their 2-point tries. Coming into the game, they had compiled an average of 53.1 percent on their 2-point field goals.
Here are three things we learned from this contest:
1. Luke Fischer's arrival most certainly adds an element to this Marquette squad
He might not be an immediate fix, and he's not going to save the Golden Eagles, but if Luke Fischer continues to come off the bench and produce like he did tonight, there's certainly an added threat that teams will have to account for. The likelihood of this occurring over a long period of time might be slim -- if he posts 10+ points and roughly 6-8 rebounds per game it's going to be hard to reason with people as to why he shouldn't be starting. But for the time being, he gives them size, which was much needed, and an interior scoring threat -- something that was also needed. And those elements, at their most basic roots, were much needed.
2. Marquette needs to be better at closing games out
MU should feel somewhat lucky to be able to get this victory. At the 11:55 mark, the Golden Eagles were up 57-37 and it looked like they were on their way to their most lopsided victory of the season. But ASU scratched and clawed their way back into the game, minimizing the lead down single digits with one minute to play. Marquette was able to dance their way out of trouble with some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, but it should be stressed going forward that they need to do a better job of keeping their opponents down when they're in precarious positions.
3. The Golden Eagles could not contain ASU's best player
Gerry Blakes was terrific on Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Though not necessarily efficient, Blakes scored 20 points and added five rebounds, two assists and a steal to what was a very good night for the 6-foot-4 guard from Inglewood, California. Marquette struggled to keep him in check -- especially from the perimeter where he shot 4-for-8 -- and if he had cut down his turnover numbers -- he finished with four -- he could have even been more dynamic. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, his 20-point outing wasn't enough to net them a victory.