The Marquette Golden Eagles returned to the scene of the crime this morning to face the Providence Friars at the Dunkin' Dohnuts Center in an important Big East matchup. In what has become a painful trend for this squad, the game once again was decided by one possession. MU put itself in a bit of a hole early due to sloppy ball control and it's inability to keep Providence's talented front court off the offensive glass. After fighting uphill for most of the game, MU was able to take the lead near the midway point in the second half and eventually building as much as an 8 point lead with roughly 3 to play. Whew, MU eventually coasted to victory, right? Of couse not. With a 7 pt lead and 1:15 to play, the shit absolutely hit the fan. After Providence knocked down the first of two ft's, they miss the second, but eventually Sharaud Curry grabs hold of the ball in the corner and unconsciously drains a 3 pointer with a defender in his grill.....quickly making it a 4 point possession and cutting the deficit to 3. With the crowd going bananas, DJO tries to inbound the ball but hesitates and eventually tries to force a bounce pass to Cubillan which gets picked off and laid in to make it a 1 pt game with 53 seconds to play........forcing Coach Williams to call a timeout. After the timeout, MU again struggles to get the ball inbounds and is eventually called for a 5 second violation. S.O.B.! Here we go again! Well thankfully, MU has Lazar Hayward. After finally preventing Providence from scoring, Cubillan bricks a long with the shot clock winding down, but Lazar is able to come down with the offensive board with 13 seconds to play forcing Providence to foul and put Lazar on the line. In spite of previous free throw line horrors, Lazar calmly knocks down both to make it a 3 point game with 13 seconds left. With a hot Sharaud Curry on the court, I frankly was scared of another desperation make, but to my surprise Providence allowed a freshman to slowly bring the ball up the court, dribble into a double team, and force up a contested 3 as time ticked closer to zero. Clank! Thank God!
Marquette escapes Providence with another come from behind victory and improves their overall record to 5-1 against Providence since joining the biggest. More importantly, MU also improves their Big East record to 6-5 and adds a quality road W to their NCAA resume.
A couple of quick notes:
1. Provided MU doesn't play Providence in the Big East tournament, they no longer have to try and contain Sharaud Curry. It seems like he has been around forever! I recall watching him play at the Bradley Center as a freshman and saying to myself and others, "He is going to be a pain in our ass for years to come". While MU has had plenty of success against Providence, Curry darn near spoiled our game today.
2. We didn't get to see Jamine Peterson much in the first matchup at the B.C. in January, and I'm glad that we didn't because he is an absolute MONSTER! While only a sophomore, the 6'6" forward looked like a man amongst boys today, scoring 28 pts on a number of alley oop dunks, drop off dunks, putbacks, and even knocking down 1 of 3 3-pt attempts. Oh and he had 11 rebounds, 5 on the offensive end. Like the comment I made about Curry, I'm not looking forward to playing this guy over the next couple of seasons.
3. With MU getting the W to go to 6-5 in Big East play, 7 games remain, 4 of which will be played at the B.C. (USF, Pitt, Notre Dame, and Louisville) and the remaining 3 will be played at very winnable venues (Cincinnati, Seton Hall, St. Johns). Looking at that schedule, going 9-9 looks likely.....going 10-8 looks reasonable......and according to Pomeroy's prediction as of this week, 11-7 looks possible. That being said, achieving any one of those 3 records, I absolutely claim this season as a success! Further, I'd give a ton of that credit to Coach Williams. What a majority thought would be a rebuilding season for Marquette, MU has actually been more than competitive while playing some of the best teams in the country. While I have been impressed with Williams' ability to get the most out of a makeshift team full of role players and junior-college transfers, I am more impressed with how this team has responded since their heartbreaking start to the season. MU has endured a number of gut wrenching losses this season, and the fact that this team has been able to bounce back get to a 6-5 record after a 1-3 start in Big East play is an accomplishment in itself. I continue to be impressed with Coach Williams and am happy with what he has been able to do with this program after Crean's unexpected departure. Keep it up MU and Ring Out Ahoya!