After coming off a tough loss at Nebraska on Wednesday, the Golden Eagles we able to step up their game on both ends of the floor and dominated the Jackrabbits at the Bradley Center on Saturday. In a game that proved to be a confidence boost for the young team, Marquette bested SDSU in nearly every statistical category.
Led by freshman Dominic James with 14 points, every player with significant minutes managed to find the basket. A total of five players tallied double digits, while shooting 61% from the field for the game. Marquette scored 44 of their points in the paint, compared to 18 for the SDSU.
"We wanted to get our inside game established, we certainly wanted to get our break established and we were able to do both," said head coach Tom Crean.
From the first possession, the Marquette defense stifled the Jacks' offense and did not relinquish field goal for the first 9:10 of the game. Combining several defensive looks with the full court press also gave SDSU problems throughout the game. In addition to forcing 32 turnovers that led to 41 points, the Marquette defense accumulated 20 steals, which set a record for a Marquette team in the Bradley Center. Freshmen Wes Matthews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James each had 6, 4 and 5 steals respectively.
"Turning defense into offense," said freshman Wes Matthews, "that is when the game gets fun. When you steals, you get the dunks."
The South Dakota State offensive was lead by red-shirt freshman Matt Cadwell who dumped in 22 points, the only member of the quad in double digits. The Jacks were able to pick up the offensive pace in the second half and scored 37 points in the second 20 minutes, but were unable to overcome the 41-15 halftime deficit.
For SDSU, it was the first game after losing their star player Steve Holdren to an ACL injury in their last game against Cal State Fullerton. Holdren was a major contributor to the Jacks last season averaging 12.4 points per game and scoring in double digits 19 times.
December 3rd also mark Travis Diener Bobblehead night at the Bradley Center. Travis returned for a presentation from Tom Crean and was accompanied by his parents and grandmother. Travis expressed his appreciation for everything that Marquette gave to him and how glad that he was to be back in Milwaukee.
"I wish I could come back and play another game, put that Marquette uniform back on," Diener said to the crowd in the pre-game ceremony. "I also want to thank the fans, for being behind me, being behind this University for four years. We have great fans and great support."
Tom Crean had Diener address the team before the game in the locker room. Travis emphasized how much he missed the college game and told the players to enjoy it while it lasts.
"I told them there is nothing like college basketball no matter where you go play. If you play in the NBA, overseas, or if you never play again, you remember college basketball more than you remember anything else. Don't take anything for granted. You only get this opportunity once and before you know it those freshmen that we have will be graduating…go out there and play hard everyday and not to take anything for granted," Diener said.
Each fan in attendance received a Diener Bobblehead as a keepsake. When asked about the likeness to himself he immediately said, "It doesn't have any facial hair!" But then he quickly added that it is an honor to be considered good enough to be depicted in a way that is reserved for some of the greatest.
Diener commented on the current Golden Eagle team and said that he expects great things from them.
"They are younger than we were (Dwyane Wade, Travis, Townsend) and they might go through a lot more ups and downs that we did, but they are talented. They might be the more talented than our Final Four team as they get older," he said.
Dominic James said that it was great to meet Diener and have him give advice before the game. "Even though he is on the Orlando Magic, he will always be part of Marquette Basketball, James said.
Marquette is in action at the Bradley Center again on Wednesday, Dec.7 when they host Valparaiso at 7 p.m.
Marquette Downs South Dakota State 87-52
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