MILWAUKEE – On a night to commemorate Hall of Fame coach Al McGuire, Marquette couldn’t have played any better. The Golden Eagles blew out the Louisville Cardinals, 69-48, on Tuesday night in front of 16,281.
An emotional Buzz Williams was glad to honor a legend.
“That’s part of my emotion,” Williams said. “I’ve never met him, I’ve read everything about him, and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.”
Sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom scored Marquette’s first eight points and finished with 22, including an emphatic dunk that sent the crowd, and Williams, into a frenzy.
“I think his middle finger was above the top of the square,” Williams said. “He pushed that thing down! I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“That was crazy,” guard Maurice Acker said. “When I saw it I was like ‘man, he was so high!’ I wasn’t expecting it. I think it should be on [SportsCenter’s] Top-10.”
Acker also put in another big performance. The senior point guard scored 15 points, dished three assists, chased down three rebounds and had three steals.
Off the bench, junior Joseph Fulce continued his breakout performance with 11 points and six boards in 18 minutes.
“I’m so happy for Joe,” Williams said. “I’ve known Joe since he was a freshman in high school. For him to have endured what he did last year… For him to have that performance in a game of this magnitude, that’s something special. When we get old, that’s something we’ll talk about.”
The Golden Eagles held the Cardinals scoreless for a stretch of 8:33 that carried from the end of the first half deep into the second half. MU scored 18 points of their own during that stretch. The Cardinals’ 48 points were their lowest point total of the year.
”Our guys played with great passion and great togetherness,” Williams said. “I thought it was the best we’ve been defensively in a long time.”
Marquette stretched the lead to 23 at one point, their largest lead of the game, without Jimmy Butler and Hayward on the floor due to foul trouble. Those two were held to eight points apiece. The last time either Butler or Hayward failed to score in double figures was Feb 6, 2009 at USF.
“Lazar and Jimmy are our leaders, so we had to pick it up on both ends,” Johnson-Odom said.
With the win, Marquette improved to 20 wins on the season. Picked 12th in the conference to start the season, the victory was important to the players.
“20 wins means a lot to us and to our program,” Acker said. “ At the same time, we’re focused on the next game. We still have a lot of the season left.”
Hayward was held scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points. This was his lowest total since the season opener vs. Centenary.
DJO eclipsed his scoring average of 12.6 in the first half with 14 points.
Louisville did not get to the line in the second half and only shot two free-throws in the first half.
Louisville did not have a score in double figures.