It seemed that Marquette had learned its lesson.
The Golden Eagles led for most of Friday night’s clash against Pittsburgh. They were locked in defensively and showed balance on offense. They were sharing the ball, spreading the floor, and when threes weren’t falling, they found other ways to score inside—all things they struggled to do in the 2K Classic opener against Michigan.
Unfortunately for Marquette, it was unable to maintain the great play it demonstrated in the first half. Behind the play of seniors Michael Young and Jamel Artis, Pittsburgh was able to settle in and dominate the second half to win 78-75, as the Golden Eagles went ice cold thanks to a reinvigorated Panther effort on both ends of the court.
“We had two halves of basketball, one in each game where we essentially gave up 50 points,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said of both 2K Classic games. “The point is you can’t have 50 point halves scored on you and win in college basketball. Give credit to the team we played, but our defense certainly has to improve."
Young finished with a game-high 30 points, going 11-for-20 overall, with eight rebounds and three blocks. As for Artis, he scored 21 points and grabbed seven boards.
“We play off each other,” Young said. “[Artis] and I have to be the load every night."
A Sam Hauser 3-pointer gave Marquette a 59-49 lead with 13:20 remaining in the game. With Artis on the bench, in foul trouble, it was up to Young to carry the team in his absence.
Young scored all of the points in a 10-0 run to tie the game. From there, the game would go back-and-forth as the lead changed hands four times and evened out three times.
Eventually, with the game tied at 75 and about a minute to go, Artis made one-of-two free throws to put Pitt ahead.
After a couple of defensive stops on both ends of the court, Marquette found itself with the final possession of the game. The Golden Eagles first went with an Andrew Rowsey drive to the basket, that was blocked out of bounds by Young. With a second chance, the Golden Eagles eventually saw a shot from Hauser, who could not sink the go-ahead 3-pointer.
Artis was quickly fouled and sent to the line, where he made both free throws to pad the Panther lead. Now up by three, Marquette had to at least tie the game or go home.
Rowsey drove down the court before pulling up from deep—farther than the NBA 3-point line. His last-second heave was no good, and Pittsburgh held on for the win.
For Marquette, Rowsey led the way with a team-high 20 point performance off of the bench. Regardless, Wojciechowski would like to see more across the board.
“I thought Andrew Rowsey was a bright spot for us today,” he said. “I would love to see our veterans play like veterans."
Three takeaways from the game:
More Than Just a Bench
Marquette’s bench players didn’t play like their second-string status. In fact, they outscored the starting five. Collectively, they shot 15-of-29 (51.7 percent) on the floor, including a 6-of-15 (40.0 percent) performance from long range. All but one of the Golden Eagles’ 3-pointers came from their bench. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles’ starting five of Carter, Cheatham, Johnson, Reinhardt, and Fischer only shot 11-of-36 (30.5 percent) on the floor. The bench accounted for 45 of Marquette’s 75 points, headlined by the performances of Sam Hauser, Duane Wilson, and...
Rowsey, a 5-10 transfer from UNC Asheville, was a scoring machine before heading over to Marquette. During his time as a Bulldog, he amassed 1,244 points in just two seasons. Definitely billed as a scoring machine, Rowsey had yet to prove whether or not that would translate to a more competitive landscape. Entering the game against Pittsburgh, he barely played. Although he appeared briefly in Marquette’s three previous games, he was a non-factor on the floor, with only one basket to his name. His 1-of-7 shooting was even less brag-worthy. However, it all changed on Friday night. He lived up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of UNC Asheville, scoring a team-high 20 points. Rowsey was not afraid to shy away from the big shot, whether it was beyond the arc or through traffic in close range. This could be the beginning of his breakout party.
Artis-Young Tandem is Legit
No opposing team should be able to rest easily on these two until the final buzzer goes off. In the first half, Young and Artis were held in check for the most part, combining for 23 points. However, Young was shooting a not-so-great 3-for-9, and Artis was 4-for-7. In the second half they took over, and eventually went on to score 51 of Pitt’s 78 points. They’ve played side-by-side with major minutes for the previous two years, but really came into their own last season. They can do it all, and are a threat to heat up at any moment. Defensively, they maintain that high intensity, although Young seems like the more well-rounded player. Artis and Young are two of the best around in the ACC and should be respected as such. They’ve dominated in every game Pittsburgh has played so far this season, and they will determine how far this team goes.