Marquette came into Connecticut after one of their, and the Big East’s, best wins of the season. The Golden Eagles looked like one of the Big East’s best teams in their 83-70 victory at North Carolina. UConn welcomed Marquette back into conference play with a dominating performance from start to finish.
You know Marquette didn’t have a good day when their best stretch of the game came in the first three minutes of the game. They jumped out to an early 9-4 lead thanks to back-to-back three pointers from Greg Elliott. From there UConn would take complete control of the game on a 34-12 run. They were bigger, stronger, faster, better coached and made Marquette look like a team that doesn’t belong in the same conference level.
Dawson Garcia and Justin Lewis, both had 12 points in the second half, tried their best to lead a Marqeutte comeback, but could never pull the deficit any lower than 11 points. Any sort of momentum from Marquette was quickly shut down by James Bouknight and RJ Cole.
The Huskies (12-6, 9-6 in Big East) played one of their most complete games of the season. Late February is a great time to enter your stride as a basketball team and they may be doing just that. Since Bouknight’s return from injury, they are 3-1. Their margins of victory have increased each game, 12 vs Providence, 13 at Georgetown, 18 vs Marquette, with their one loss being Bouknight’s second game back (8 point loss at Villanova). With two guards playing at an elite level, Bouknight finished with 24 points and Cole with 21, UConn could prove to be the Big East’s most dangerous tournament team.
Marquette (11-13, 6-11) is the Big East’s most disappointing team. They continue to show flashes of the brilliant team that could have been, like their first half at UNC where they looked like a top 10 team running all over UNC to a 45-29 lead. In their first half today, you could have convinced me they were a Division II basketball team. Marquette’s guard play has not lived up to the expectations and their inconsistent play is even more glaring when playing against the Huskies’ two great guards. We knew Marquette would suffer after losing Markus Howard, but I don’t think fans expected to be desperate for a steady Derrick Wilson like presence in the backcourt.
With only two regular season games left, UConn’s next matchup has them traveling to New Jersey to face Seton Hall. The Bouknight-less Huskies lost their first matchup 80-73. This matchup will likely determine who finishes third in the conference as the Huskies and Seton Hall are both currently 2.5 games back.
Marquette’s lousy season could get even worse if they lose their next matchup: a road game at DePaul. A season sweep at the hands of easily the worst team in the conference would be a new low for the Golden Eagles.