Keno Davis was also thought to be fighting for his job, but if he was it appeared to be a first round TKO at the Garden Tuesday night.
Providence could not have been more unprepared to begin the first half. Maybe it was the late start time at the end of a tough season. Maybe it was all the speculation that the Friars were a program that was in limbo to speculation on Keno Davis' may be on his way out. Whatever it was, the Friars were out of sync and getting run out of the building until the last two minutes of the first half when they made a mini run. Marquette got off to a 17-0 start and was never really were in danger of losing the game.
Marquette picked up where they left off at the Bradley Center a week ago, attaching Jimmy Butler to Marshon Brooks' with help coming when necessary for nearly the entire game, forcing the rest of the Friars to step up and make plays. Vincent Council was the only other Friar to really step up big. Brooks finished with a solid 20 points but he could not take over the game, something that was needed for Providence to pull out the victory.
The Friars were actually led in scoring by Council, who scored 21 points, dished out seven assists and only committed one turnover. It was his best game in some time after struggling with his shot much of the Big East schedule. It was only the second time in Big East games that a Friar other than Brooks was the leading scorer. Freshman Gerard Coleman was the only other Providence player who scored in double figures with 11 points and an impressive 8 rebounds (team high). Bryce Cotton chipped in 8 points off the bench. The closest Providence ever got was 7 points when a Gerard Coleman three pointer cut the Marquette lead to 7 just under the 17 minute mark of the second half. The Golden Eagles responded after that and never looked back.
Of course rebounding was a huge factor in this game. Marquette had 38 points in the paint, many of which were put backs for layups. The Golden Eagles out-rebounded the Friars 53-37, a staggering difference. This was the highest rebounding total for Marquette since Buzz Williams became head coach at the Big East program.
Marquette also dished out 20 assists, another season high for Marquette. They got out in transition and scored repeatedly on a Friar team that couldn't get back in position. They also fed the post and passed to cutters time and again, exposing the Providence guards ability to contain penetration. The Golden Eagles had balanced scoring, but were led by Darius Johnson-Odom with 23 points and Jimmy Butler with 19.
Buzz Williams is used to winning at the Big East Tournament. They have now won their first game at the Garden 5 out of 6 times since they joined the conference. As for Providence? They've only won once at the Tournament since the time Marquette joined the Big East.
As for senior Marshon Brooks, he ends his season at Providence with 788 points. The All American candidate plans to spend some time working out with Tennessee's Scotty Hopson in preparation for the NBA workouts and draft. NBA teams such as Toronto and Chicago have shown some early interest in Brooks.
After the game, Brooks was reflective on the end of his college career.
"I've always done what I can to help Providence win, sometimes maybe I tried to do too much… But Friartown and Stone Mountain (GA) is all I've ever known and it is a little sad to say goodbye. But I will always come back here whenever I'm in the area because this school and its fans mean a lot to me."
Brooks is almost certainly going to be drafted into the NBA this spring, but the future at Providence is more murky. There was widespread speculation that Keno Davis had coached his last game at Providence, and that Providence officials may make a change by the end of the week. What that might bring is anyone's guess at this point.
Providence finishes the season with its second losing record in two years going 15-17 and without a road win. It hasn't been the best of times in Friartown. "Turn out the lights, the party's over", once sang sports announcer Don Meredith, although this was one Garden Party that never really got started for the Friars.
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