It was another tenacious Marquette performance, including some suffocating defense and aggressive team rebounding that Providence hasn't been able to respond to very well for years in Big East play. Marquette doesn't have a dominating frontcourt, but they have good overall size, athleticism, and physicality up and down their roster. The Golden Eagles typically excel against teams that rely heavily on backcourt scoring, particularly if those guards are undersized. Providence has fit that profile most seasons in recent memory.
Marquette wins by forcing you to box out well to keep them off the glass, and to use your big men to pound the ball inside, and the Friars and frankly many other teams simply cannot do enough of that.
The Friar zone did a very poor job preventing cutters to the rim on field goal attempts or in transition, and Trent Lockett and Jamil Wilson repeatedly got into the lane for easy put backs or layups totaling 21 points. This is where Providence really was beaten badly. In the first half, Marquette had 9 offensive rebounds, while the Friars only had 7 total boards. While the rebounding advantage diminished in the second half, it set the tone for the day and help to build and 8 point halftime lead at home for Buzz Williams and his team that they never really would relinquish.
The appearance of an aggressive bat in the building caused a stir in the building in the second half, stopping play a number of times and actually giving the Friars a few breathers to gather themselves and make a 7-0 run to cut the Marquette lead to 6. However, with the bat's eventual departure, so also went the Friar scoring flurry.
Sidiki Johnson had his best game as a Friar scoring 14 points, but he also had 6 key turnovers, as he's an accident waiting to happen when he puts the ball on the floor for more than one dribble. Kadeem Batts battled foul trouble again and was limited to 6 points in 18 minutes, which allowed Davante Gardner (who plays like the reincarnation of Danya Abrams) to bull his way to the basket for 13 points on 6-12 shooting.
Senior Junior Cadougan outplayed Vincent Council, and Vander Blue did a better job than most opposing guards limiting Big East scoring leader Bryce Cotton to only 19 points. Cadougan and Blue combined for 28 points, easily matching Providence's strength of Cotton and Council who together also scored 28. That can't happen if Providence is going to win Big East games.
So the Friars dropped another one to Marquette, who has absolutely owned them since they joined the Big East. (Providence has only defeated them once in BE play) It is Marquette's overall team work, physicality, and execution that always seems to out will the Friars, and it shows up not in gaudy scoring numbers, but in offensive rebounds and second chance baskets, blocked shots, steals, and forcing opponents to execute difficult half court offense versus with easy transition hoops.
Kris Dunn, who is exactly the type of guard that Providence will need to beat Marquette on both sides of the floor going forward, had a nice game with 10 points and 2 steals in 21 minutes of play, despite the fact he's still recovering from the flu.
The Friars need more size at most positions to take advantage of Marquette's weaknesses of outside shooting and inconstant frontcourt scorers. They will have many more opportunities to accomplish that too, as Marquette will be one nemesis that will be joining Providence and the other breakaway basketball schools in a new basketball centric conference.
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