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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recap: Marquette 72 – Rutgers 65

Ryan Ellerbusch

Wednesday night marked the beginning of a stretch of three games in six days for the Marquette Golden Eagles, and they were able to take care of business and earn their first Big East road victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 72-65.
Marquette (11-4, 2-0 Big East) relied on three big scoring performances from Darius Johnson-Odom (who tied a career-high with 29 points), Jimmy Butler, and Jae Crowder (who scored 16 and 15 points respectively). Marquette’s “Big Three” scored 60 of the team’s 73 points on the evening, despite averaging 81 points coming into the game. Rutgers stretched their defense and made it difficult for Marquette to work the ball around on offense, forcing 16 total turnovers in the contest. But, reminiscent of Marquette’s New Year’s Day win over West Virginia, the Golden Eagles got off to a hot start and held a nine point lead just four minutes into the game, thanks to two early 3-pointers from Jae Crowder, who also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. Crowder, who was named to the Big East Conference Honor Roll for the second straight week, has impressively sunk a 3-pointer on his first attempt in 13 of 14 games played this season.

Marquette led 37-30 at halftime, courtesy of Darius Johnson-Odom’s hot shooting as of late and pair of 3-pointers with two minutes left to play. The Golden Eagles surprisingly shot better from 3-point range (7-11 for 63.6%) in the first half compared to the rest of the field (12-21 for 57.1%). Sophomore point guard Junior Cadougan was also given the chance to shine and played 29 minutes and tallied eight assists off the bench over regular starting point guard Dwight Buycks. Marquette also took advantage of Rutgers by getting to the free-throw line as they’ve been doing all season, although converting just 20 of 32 attempts (62.5%) at the charity stripe, which kept the Scarlet Knights playing the chase and foul game up until the final buzzer sounded, as Marquette went on to win 72-65.

Marquette will play one more road game Saturday afternoon against Pittsburgh, which is currently ranked 5th in the nation, before returning to the friendly confines of Milwaukee’s Bradley Center for ESPN’s “Big Monday” rivalry matchup. The matchup will pit Marquette against the surprise of the Big East conference in Notre Dame. Marquette will need to rely on their depth at guard and have excellent games from their post players if they expect to upset both Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.

Saturday January 8, 2011 @ Pittsburgh Panthers - 1:00 p.m.

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