After defeating Wisconsin on the road Saturday, the Marquette Golden Eagles (7-0) have a quick turnaround and will take on the Washington Huskies (4-2) tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
After moving up to 11th in each the AP and Coaches poll on Monday, the Golden Eagles will face a Washington team that is diametrically opposed in style to MU's recent opponent.
"Washington plays really fast," said Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams. "We played the slowest team in the country on Saturday on the road, and we'll play the tenth-fastest team in the country at the world's most famous arena 72 hours later. So it's definitely a distinct change."
The difference in tempo may be welcoming for the faster-paced Golden Eagle squad but the Huskies present a number of challenges, namely, they have multiple threats that can score 15-20 points in any one game.
"They have six guys that average eight points or more per game," said Williams. "They have four future NBA draft picks. [They are] unbelievably talented."
The Huskies are lead by sophomore guard Terrence Ross. The six-foot-six Portland native leads the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game. His 6.2 rebounds per game are good for second on the team and he has also contributed on the defensive end with just over one block per game.
He is joined in the backcourt by point guard Abdul Gaddy and shooting guard C.J. Wilcox. Gaddy, a former McDonald's All American, was somewhat of a disappointment in his first two seasons in Seattle. Now in his third season, he has bumped his scoring up to 9.7 points per game and is averaging 5.3 assists per game.
Wilcox, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise for the Huskies and is second on the team in scoring at 15.8 points per game. The sophomore guard has been hot from downtown to start the season has he has connected on 18-of-35 three point attempts (51 percent).
Up front, the Huskies don't have as much depth or scoring as the backcourt but have lengthy players that fill a role. Forward Darnell Gant scores adds 8.5 points per game to the Husky attack while Center Aziz N'Diaye provides muscle in the paint with averages of 8.2 points-, 8.7 rebounds- and 2.3 blocks-per-game.
Perhaps the Huskies' most talented player, freshman guard Tony Wroten provides a huge lift off the bench as the sixth man. Wroten, a five-star recruit just a year ago, is third on the team in scoring at 13 per game. The six-five guard has become the focus of the offense when he is in the game so far this season, accounting for 36 percent of the Huskies' possessions when he is on the floor.
Additionally, freshman forwards Desmond Simmons and Martin Breunig provide relief off the bench.
The Golden Eagles will once again look to star guard Darius Johnson-Odom in tonight's matchup. The senior guard scored 17 points to lead MU over Wisconsin on Saturday and will once again draw most of the attention of the opposing teams' gameplans.
"It's a tall task," said Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar, when asked how he will defend Johnson-Odom. "No one has defended him yet in the other games they've played. His shooting is so much better. "He's so quick with the basketball, so durable and so aggressive - he's a tough, tough cover. So several guys will attempt to slow him down, but it won't be an easy job at all."
Johnson-Odom will have additional help in the backcourt as Junior Cadougan returns to action after being suspended for the Wisconsin game for violation of team rules.
Marquette will also look to get Jae Crowder back into the mix offensively as the senior forward was plagued with foul trouble on Saturday and scored just four points.
Romar had high praise of Crowder, who is averaging over 16 points per game.
"I think he's the most difficult matchup that we've faced up to this point in the season. Someone with that size and that versatility is a difficult cover. He does a lot of things defensively. He's kind of out there like a linebacker…he's pressing sometimes, he switches on ball screens, he plays ball screens several different ways…just very, very versatile. He's a hard guy to deal with."
Look for a high-scoring, up and down, and competitive game between the two team tonight at the Garden. Marquette's ability to turn the opposing team over could be the difference—especially when facing a young and inexperienced UW squad.
Tip time tonight is set for 8:00pm CST and the game can be seen nationally on ESPN,
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