At 12:00 pm EST tomorrow, the Marquette Golden Eagles return to the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island to face the Providence Friars........and possibly their fans. During MU's come from behind victory in Providence last year, an unwelcomed guest (that being Providence forward Jeff Xavier's brother, see picture) decided to invite himself onto the court after what he thought was an overly aggressive foul on his brother Jeff go uncalled. Nothing ever transpired from the unexpected appearance of Mr. Xavier, but Coach Williams was not pleased to say the least. You can bet that the arena's security will be extra tight for tomorrow's matchup. We all know the saying, "fool me once shame on you.......", that being said, Providence does not want to be embarassed like that again.
On to the matchup - Marquette recently climbed to 0.500 in Big East play after beating Depaul on Wednesday, while Providence is sitting one game behind MU at 4-6. As of right now, half of the Big East is sitting somewhere between 4-6 and 6-4, so this game will loom large in the final 4 week push. In their previous matchup, MU throttled Providence 93-63 behind Mo Acker's 6-6 performance from behind the arc. What may have alleviated the W for MU was the ejection of Jamine Peterson, Providence's best all around player, just before the end of the first half. You can bet Providence has this fresh in their minds (or at least was reminded of it on tape this week) and will be fired up for this game. Like MU, Providence likes to shoot the 3 and can hit it at a good clip, so these 2 teams mirror each other well.
Keys to the Game:
1. Turnovers - MU is typically good at taking care of the ball, but was uncharacteristically sloppy versus Depaul on Wednesday. In order to come away with a nice road win, MU has to win the turnover battle. (Yes, I'm looking at you Buycks and DJO)
2. Aggressiveness - Like one of my keys to the Depaul game, MU needs to attack the paint. Providence does not have an intimidating post presence and shot blocker, so I would like to see our guards continue what they did on Wednesday and go hard to the glass. They will be rewarded with layups, free throws, and weak side putbacks if they are dedicated to this.
3. Ball movement - When this team moves the ball alot and quickly, their shot selection is superb! Further, they knock down their shots more consistently. They need to maintain this kind of focus for an ENTIRE 40 minutes. We all know what happens when they only do this for 37 minutes.
Prediction: MU 81
Now that DJO is consistently being our most productive player on the offensive end, MU has three reliable options in Lazar Hayward, Jimmy Butler, and Darius Johnson-Odom. So essentially, MU can handle a cold shooting night from one of the three. That being said, I think that MU's advantage in firepower will be the edge in this high scoring matchup. Provided MU takes care of the ball, I think that they walk away victorious with Providence making a few late garbage baskets to make it look closer than it was (similar to the Depaul game).
Ring Out Ahoya!