The Friars entered Milwaukee riding a five-game winning streak that included wins over top teams Creighton and Xavier, but couldn’t overcome a lousy first half performance. The Friars shot 5-of-28 (17.9 percent) from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
[Davante Gardner had 14 pts and 11 reb in 25 min]
Davante Gardner led Marquette with 14 points and Jamil Wilson scored 11 on four of seven shooting.
Head coach Buzz Williams spread his team’s minutes and the production resembled that. Every Golden Eagle except Juan Anderson logged at least 10 minutes on Thursday night and each player except Steve Taylor scored a basket.
[Quick on quick Bryce Cotton led Providence with 20 pts and 4 assists in 40 min.]
Williams said he didn’t have a particular strategy for his lineup, other than just throwing different looks at the Friars, who played only six guys for more than 16 minutes.
Another interesting change for Marquette was the inclusion of freshmen JaJuan Johnson and Deonte Burton into the starting lineup. The freshmen duo played 12 and 15 minutes, respectively and combined for 12 points.
“Some of our best offensive players are our worst defensive players and some of our best defensive players are our worst offensive players,” Williams said. “Running them in waves the way we did in the first half was kind of a balance of all of it.”
The Friars made the game interesting in the second half. Trailing 37-18 with over 17 minutes left in the first half, Providence staged a 16-0 run in the following six minutes to close the gap to just four points before Jamil Wilson hit a jumper from the elbow to end his team’s drought. The Friars didn’t come any closer to taking the lead afterward.
After struggling mightily against Villanova’s Ryan Arcidacono, Derrick Wilson bounced back with one of his better games of the season. Williams went so far as to say it was Wilson’s best game of the year. Wilson scored four points with four steals and eight assists. Marquette scored 17 fast break points and Wilson was a big part in pushing the floor.
“I think everybody’s starting to realize that’s the easiest way to score,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of athletes on our team, so I think just getting the ball out like that makes it easier for everybody.”
[Chris Otule played tough defense down low.]
Part of the reason Marquette had all hands on deck is scheduling. The Golden Eagles head to the Big Apple this weekend for a Saturday afternoon slate with St. John’s. Williams gave the Red Storm some high praise in his press conference despite being in the bottom half of the Big East standings.
“I think St. John’s is unquestionably the most talented team in our league,” Williams said. “What transpires between now and Saturday afternoon at one will probably determine how we flow and how we play.”
[John Dawson had 4 pts in 10 min of action]