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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recap: Vanderbilt 77 - Marquette 76

Ryan Ellerbusch

With a 9-4 record heading into Big East play on Saturday, the Marquette men’s basketball team fell Wednesday night to the Vanderbilt Commodores 77-76 in their final non-conference matchup of the 2010-11 campaign. Marquette’s nine wins on the season thus far have all come against relatively easy opponents, while their four losses were suffered against nationally ranked opponents including Duke, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt, though each game was close with Maquette losing each game by five points or less.

Against Vanderbilt (10-2), the Golden Eagles got off to a slow start as did Vanderbilt’s leading scorer, John Jenkins, who is averaging 18.2 points per game. Jenkins finished the night going 4 for 21 from the field, but the Commodores got a strong performance from their post players who were both active in the paint by scoring and rebounding. Although Vanderbilt’s largest lead of the game was 11 points early in the first half, Marquette battled back to take a 37-34 lead at halftime using a 13-3 run in the closing minutes to gain the advantage and momentum heading into the locker room.

Five Golden Eagles scored in double-digits with Jimmy Butler (15) and Darius-Johnson Odom (14) leading the potent scoring attack as the team shot 56.1% from the field. Marquette led by as much as seven points before each team exchanged runs in the second half as they battled down to the wire inside Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym, which is known for its unusual design where the team benches are positioned on the baseline rather than the standard sideline, which in turn creates a unique home court advantage.

Trailing at this particular point in the second half, Marquette inched closer with three consecutive steals and fast-break layups, courtesy of Vander Blue, converting the final takeaway with a 3-point play with 6 minutes remaining. With just a few minutes left to play, Dwight Buycks also led the Marquette comeback with a long two-pointer from the top of the key to lead briefly by a point. However, Vanderbilt’s Andre Walker made a layup on the ensuing possession over Chris Otule’s outstretched hand with 4.1 seconds left to play to give Vanderbilt the 77-76 lead. Marquette had one last chance after Buzz Williams used his last two timeouts, as Johnson-Odom received the pass and drove the court, but seemed to trip and lost the ball as time expired making Wednesday night’s game yet another disappointing, close defeat. Marquette has already lost three games this season in which they have had the ball with a chance to either tie or win the game, but have failed to do so.

January 1, 2011 vs. West Virginia @ The Bradley Center - 10:00 a.m.

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