Rapid Reaction: Marquette 88, BYU 68
March, 15, 2012
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The afternoon games at the KFC Yum! Center were more crummy than yummy, at least for those who prefer their NCAA tournament games seasoned with crunch-time drama. But Murray State and Marquette fans aren't complaining.
Here's a quick look at No. 3 seed Marquette's 88-68 victory over No. 14 BYU:
Overview: There would be no Mormon Miracle this time around.
BYU roared back from a 25-point deficit Tuesday to beat Iona in the First Four, recording the largest comeback win in NCAA tournament history. The Cougars again dug themselves a massive hole on Thursday, but Marquette was far too good to get caught from behind.
The Golden Eagles led by as many as 19 points in a dominant first half and held off a couple of medium-sized Cougars charges to keep the advantage in double digits most of the way home. Marquette was a little too quick, a little too insistent on the glass and had a little too much Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.
The team's two senior anchors combined for 45 points and answered every comeback attempt by BYU. If those two can keep playing like that, Marquette is going to be a difficult team for any West Region opponent to handle.
Turning point: Back-to-back BYU 3-pointers sliced the lead to 52-46 with a little more than 15 minutes to go. Marquette responded with a quick 8-0 run, capped by a dunk in transition by Crowder. The margin would get no closer than eight points the rest of the game.
Key player: You probably won't find many better lines than Crowder's this opening weekend. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds ... in the first half. His versatility was too much for BYU to handle, especially when he hit three 3-pointers in the first half. Crowder finished with 25 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Johnson-Odom provided a nice wingman with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists of his own.
Key stat: Marquette outrebounded BYU 48-32 and had 16 offensive rebounds. The Golden Eagles scored 18 second-chance points to just five by the Cougars.
Miscellany: Marquette's Davante Gardner, in his third game back since a left knee injury sidelined him in January, chipped in 15 points and six rebounds off the bench. ... BYU's Brandon Davies led his team with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Cougars fans can only wonder what might have been last year had Davies not been suspended. ... Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sat in the Marquette section behind the team's bench.
What's next: Marquette advances to play No. 6 seed Murray State in the West Region third round on Saturday. It should be an interesting matchup between two high-tempo, athletic teams.