The Marquette Golden Eagles capped off a big day for the Big East who went 7-0 and 3-0 against the Big 12. They definitely gave us a scare, but Marquette pulled out a tough win on the road. The Kansas State Wildcats may not be as good as last year, but winning both games of the home to home series is impressive.
Marquette’s first half might be the best they’ve all season. The game against Jacksonville seems to have really helped the offense as the team seems confident and effective without Markus Howard. Sacar Anim remained aggressive. Howard did have 10 in the first half, but Marquette will be near unbeatable any half that Greg Elliott, Jamal Cain, and Brendan Bailey complement Howard by combining to shoot 5-for-5 from three. Marquette’s impressive half gave them a 39-26 halftime lead.
As the second half started, Marquette quickly blew their big lead as Kansas State pulled within 3, 45-42, with 13:57 left. A weird, hard to understand skirmish broke resulting in a very angry Koby McEwen.
I am still not quite sure what happened. Marquette would maintain their lead as the game wound down, with Koby hitting a clutch three and a pair of free throws to ice the game.
Jamal Cain has emerged. He has looked good so far this season, providing a spark off the bench. Tonight he was incredibly impressive, throwing down athletic, thunderous dunks, going 3-4 from 3, and looking like a completely different (from last year), wildly confident player. With Bailey, who is still starting, only playing seven minutes, Jamal got to play 33. Posting a 17-point, nine-rebound night, Jamal was dynamic and impactful. I would not be surprised if Wojo decided to start Brendan throughout the season, but that Jamal would average more minutes coming off the bench. Having someone who can impact the game as much as Jamal has shown he can coming off the bench is incredibly valuable.
I don’t want to make this a “takeaway” from every game, but the amount of turnovers is still a major issue. Granted, being on the road against a top level, pressure defense can lead to a lot of turnovers, but 18 is way too much.
Koby had a frustrating game. This was not a good match-up for him. Kansas St’s defensive strengths are stopping what Koby is most effective at, pick and rolls and drives. This led to him playing only 18 minutes, scoring only 5 points, and eventually fouling out. But he hit a clutch three with 2:10 remaining to give Marquette a 9 point lead and sank a pair of free throws with 1:15 left. We all know Markus can hit big shots, but he struggled often down the stretch of close games last season. Having another go to play-maker down the stretch of close games will be be huge and should lead to more victories in close games.
Marquette takes the next week off for finals. They return to action on December 17th at home against Grambling. Grambling is currently 4-5. They are the first of Marquette’s three remaining non-conference opponents before they face off against Creighton on January 1st.