Louisville—After jumping out to an 18-5 lead to begin the game, the Marquette Golden Eagles never allowed the BYU Cougars to get closer than six points, cruising to an 88-68 first round win at the KFC Yum! Center.
The quick start was anticipated and possibly even expected by Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams.
"I anticipated it," said Williams. "I thought there was a good vibe this morning. I could sense it. I thought they were really good in the locker room prior to the game. So I anticipated us having the start that we had because I thought everybody was locked in."
The Golden Eagles were able to race out to a quick start thanks to hot three-point shooting. Junior Cadougan, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom all banged home three-pointers by the 16:42 mark of the first half.
Crowder continued his hot play through the rest of the first half, totaling 17 points and 10 boards by intermission. The six-foot-six senior finished with 25 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. His play on the offensive glass (6 offensive rebounds) was pivotal to the Golden Eagles jumping out to a large lead.
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose was impressed with Crowder's play and thinks he is one of the most difficult guys to guard in the country.
"The toughest thing is, when you crowd him on the perimeter, he can get right past you," said Rose. "And then when they play through him, he is so aggressive on the weak side."
Coming off what he described as a "disappointing performance" in the BIG EAST Tournament, Crowder's aggressiveness in the first half certainly paid off, as the Golden Eagles were able to take a 15-point lead in to halftime.
After watching BYU come back from a 25-point deficit on Tuesday night and having known Rose's background and story, Williams knew the Cougars would come out fighting after intermission.
"I told our team as soon as I walked in (to the locker room) ‘guys, their coach was supposed to die of cancer, they're not going to quit'. And you guys watched the game on Tuesday. They're not quitting.
Even with the warning from their coach, the Golden Eagles watched the cougars cut the lead down to seven by the 16:02 mark. However, their response was impressive as they bumped it back up to 14 after a Crowder breakaway slam.
Noah Hartsock scored six straight points to bring the lead back down to 8 with 13 minutes to play. The theme of the day seemed to be timely runs by MU, as a Davante Gardner basket and foul capped a 9-0 run for Marquette.
BYU brought the lead down to 10 on several more occasions but were not able to turn the corner and get any closer. Todd Mayo hit a pair of key three-pointers to make sure the Cougars wouldn't cut down the lead any further.
"I thought what he (Mayo) was able to do for us defensively, particularly in the second half, when it was getting shaky, I thought that's why he was able to make shots," said Williams. "And I thought they were big shots."
Mayo scored 10 points in-all and his six rebounds tied for second best, behind Crowder. Darius Johnson-Odom and Davante Gardner also scored in double-figures for MU with 20 and 15 points, respectively.
Gardner's presence on the interior was crucial for the Golden Eagles against the size of Hartsock and Brandon Davies. Gardner was able to get to the line often (8 attempts) and his scoring ability provided a punch.
Davies led BYU in scoring and rebounding with 19 points and 12 boards. Hartsock finished with 15 points but failed to grab a rebound. Craig Cusick was the only other Cougar in double-figures.
Marquette will face No. 6-seed Murray State on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.
MU runs by BYU
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