Righting the ship

Marquette has found a way to get back on track after sluggish starts.

Before Marquette's three home games against St. John's, Pittsburgh, and Louisville, a lot of fans would have expected the Golden Eagles to win all three of those games.

They did win each, but sure made the Marquette faithful sweat for each one.

In all three games, Buzz Williams' team started out sluggish in the first half, and fell behind to their opposition. Against St. John's they were down by one at halftime, against Pittsburgh they were down five after twenty minutes, and Louisville jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first seven minutes of the game.

The Cardinals hit four 3-point shots in that span, and looked like they might put a Vanderbilt-esque whooping on the Golden Eagles.

Then at the 16-minute media timeout with 13:49 left in the first half, Buzz Williams decided to take a different approach when addressing his team, and say nothing.

"Today I told them nothing," Williams said after the game. "Just tried something different, so I literally said nothing."

Trailing by 16 points, the team didn't need to be told that they needed to get their act together, and they did. They finished the half extremely strong, starting right out of the timeout, when they went on a 14-2 run in the four-and-a-half minutes that followed. They outscored the Cardinals 72-45 for the rest of the game.

The Golden Eagles responded quicker than they did against either St. John's or Pittsburgh though, as they did go into halftime with the lead, at 34-30. Senior Darius Johnson-Odom said that comeback started with righting the ship defensively, as they knew there was plenty of time to score.

"We had plenty of time to rally back," said Johnson-Odom. "We were just worried about getting stops and slowing them down."

Johnson-Odom acknowledged that his team is still winning games despite their slow starts, but those starts need to stop.

"We got to get out of that," Johnson-Odom admitted. "It's been working but we don't want to continue that going forward."

The senior guard and team's leading scorer is spot on with that statement. Although the Golden Eagles' next seven games are against teams that they should beat, four of them come on the road. Especially in the Big East, teams cannot afford to get down early when playing away from home.

Nobody may have a specific answer to what the problem is when it comes to Marquette and starting the game strong (or at least not as sluggishly as they have). The only thing that is known is that it has to change.

Their next challenge to avoid getting behind early will come on Saturday, as the team travels to Rhode Island to take on the Providence Friars, who are 1-5 in Big East play.

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