Undoubtedly, the biggest spark to the fire of the crowd and the team came from senior Mike Kinsella in his last game at the Bradley Center.
Spotting up and nailing two three-pointers in his first two shots, Kinsella showed previously unseen range that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
"The momentum changer for us was certainly Mike Kinsella," said head coach Tom Crean. "He rose to the challenge."
James dished out 10 assists and scored eight points, while Matthews and Cubillan each tallied 20 points to lead all scorers.
When James left the game for over five minutes late in the second half with a cramp, the Marquette lead bottomed from 17 points with 11 minutes to go, to a mere four points.
Cubillan shouldered the load from there.
Taking the reigns and running the offense, the freshman shot a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 57 seconds.
Following the team-oriented theme of the night, great ball movement led to several scoring chances for Marquette.
Of the team's 25 field goals, a Golden Eagle was credited with an assist on 17 of them.
"Everyone had to make big plays tonight and I just had to do the same thing, and it wasn't just me," said Matthews. "It was my teammates getting me the ball where I could score."
The players and coaches both spoke about the effect the ESPN College Gameday-inspired crowd had on the game, which was further excited with the recognition of the entire 1977 National Championship team.
"We couldn't ask for a better atmosphere. The crowd was ready for this game, we definitely fed off this energy." said Matthews.
"We all knew that we were going have to step up," said Cubillan. "We always prepare, and I was ready to play. My teammates put me in a great position to make a great shot."
Jamil Lott lays one in
With the Big East Conference tournament coming up, it said a lot to Crean about his team that they pulled together and made sure not to let a Big East win slip away.
"We were up 17 on a fantastic team and we knew they weren't going to go away." he said. "We found a way to win and made the plays we had to make."
"I think this is just another one of those experiences for them," Crean added. "They found away to win, they had a great lead, we never lost the lead, and we found a way to win."
**Eric Titze is a senior majoring in Political Science.