Turning up the heat

Marquette's 1-2-2 three-quarter-court pressure had Pittsburgh in a daze.

MILWAUKEE—Earlier this season, the Golden Eagles' high-octane offense made national headlines, averaging 84 points in each of their first 10 games. On Saturday afternoon against Pittsburgh, however, it was Marquette's defense that stole the show.

Trailing 36-41 with 12:28 left to play in the game, the Golden Eagles found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-1 run. After a 30 second timeout by the Pittsburgh Panthers, Marquette came out in their 1-2-2 three-quarter court pressure, desperate to gain control of the game.

Over the next five minutes, the Golden Eagles flexed their muscles defensively, forcing five turnovers and going on a 13-0 run. When Pittsburgh wasn't turning the ball over, they were being forced into bad jump shots, as they were 0-6 from the field with three of their misses coming from long range.

During that stretch, the Panthers were unable to reach the free throw line and actually committed three fouls of their own, leading to five Marquette free throws. Sophomore forward Jamil Wilson made two of those free throws. His seven points and four offensive rebounds was key to the Golden Eagles' success, as Davante Gardner had a much quieter performance on Saturday than he has in previous games.

Wilson spent a large portion of the game playing in the three spot, rather than patrolling the paint like he is used to. At six-feet-seven-inches, Wilson was able to make his presence felt when defending Pittsburgh's smaller guards, registering two blocks within three possessions in the first half.

After the game, Wilson was asked about the impact that Marquette's high-pressure defense had on the other end of the floor.

"Our defense always powers our offense," Wilson said. "To get out in transition and run and jump...that's what we do everyday day in practice."

Marquette looked very comfortable running the fast break and putting heavy pressure on the ball defensively.

Opposing coach Jamie Dixon made note of the Golden Eagles' energy after the game, saying, "their aggressiveness definitely picked up in the second half." Dixon didn't downplay the importance of the Marquette's defensive effort, as he pointed out that "some turnovers in the second half were the key."

With No 15 Louisville coming into town on Monday, the Golden Eagles will likely look to their 1-2-2 press to keep the Cardinals off balance. If Marquette can continue to play defense at such a high level, and the age old axiom that defense wins championships has any validity, then the Golden Eagles should be flying high once March comes around.

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