MILWAUKEE-When the opposing coach's first words after the game read: "You wouldn't want to play horse against them today," you know you've had a heck of a night.
So was the case for Marquette (12-5, 3-1) as they shot a blistering 12-of-17 from three-point range en route to a 79-57 drubbing of Mike Brey's No. 9/11 Fighting Irish (14-3, 3-2) on Monday night at the Bradley Center.
Senior guard Dwight Buycks poured in a career-high 21 points and shot a perfect 5-of-5 from downtown. He also spent most of his time on the defensive end guarding Notre Dame's leading scorer Ben Hansbrough, who turned the ball over four times and was held to just 9 points.
"I think he's playing with a lot confidence right now," said Head Coach Buzz Williams of Buycks. "I think part of that is that he's a senior, I think part of it is that he wants to do great, and I think part of it is that I just stand on top of his neck every day and he has a little edge like, ‘I can do this'."
Buycks effort wasn't the only impressive showing however, as he had help from Jae Crowder who did his best Lazar Hayward impersonation – scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds showing his versatility in the post as well as the perimeter (4-of-6 from three-point range) – on a night the Marquette alumnus was in the building.
"He's a new guy, but he's one of the best players in the league," said Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey. "I was impressed with him on tape, but then watching him live [you really see that] he's a heck of a talent and a bear to guard. I think he's starting to prove he's definitely in Lazar's league."
The Golden Eagles never trailed in the contest, but were unable to distance themselves from the Fighting Irish in the first half as they had but a five-point advantage at intermission.
Over the first 3:26 of the second half though, MU slowly began to pull way. The Golden Eagles stretched the lead to 10 on the wake of baskets by Crowder and Otule and then blew the game wide open over the next six minutes – stretching the lead to 16 – and never looked back.
Jimmy Butler (15 points) and Darius Johnson-Odom (13 points on 3-of-5 three-point field goals) were key during this second half stretch as they helped Marquette build an insurmountable 26-point lead. Also encouraging for the Golden Eagles was the play of sophomore center Chris Otule. Otule provided a presence on the offensive end for MU, both scoring the ball (8 points) and drawing fouls on the smaller Fighting Irish defenders.
After being torched by Pitt from beyond the arc, Marquette responded with a strong statement Monday night. The Irish shot a mere 3-of-16 from downtown and 21-of-53 overall for the game. In addition to the defense on Hansbrough, Marquette was also able to frustrate several other ND players. Scott Martin shot 4-of-15 from the field and Tim Abromaitis scored 10 points, well below his season average of 16 ppg.
"They did such a good job keeping the ball out of his hands tonight," said Brey when referring to Hansbrough. "Give credit to Marquette, their speed and [closing] of passing lanes really bothered us."
The Golden Eagles return to the hardwood on Saturday morning when they travel to the KFC YUM! Center to face the No. 18/17 Louisville Cardinals. Tip time is set for 10:00 AM CST.
Notes: Monday night's victory was the 100th all-time against nationally ranked opponents…The 22 point victory is the third largest in the series for MU…Feb. 9, 2008 was the last time the home team won in the MU-ND series…Monday was the 30th anniversary (Jan. 10, 1981) of the infamous Doc River's half-court buzzer-beater against the then No. 5 Fighting Irish, 54-52 at the M.E.C.C.A.
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