What it means: Marquette has won six in a row and stands in second place in the Big East. This isn’t a finesse team, but a scrappy one -- think Pitt of old. The scrappiness serves the Golden Eagles well. Villanova, meantime, is showing life, but it’s a little too late to resurrect what likely will go down as the worst season under Jay Wright since 2003-04.
Why it happened: This wasn’t pretty. The foul-plagued game took two-and-a-half hours to complete, with officials serving three technical fouls and so many personal fouls it was impossible to get into a rhythm. But if they weren’t beautiful, the Golden Eagles were wily. Marquette slowly and methodically chipped away at Villanova’s lead, which was 18 at one point in the first half. The Golden Eagles upped the ante on the defensive end. Junior Cadougan virtually took Maalik Wayns out of the game, pressuring the junior guard so much he could barely get the ball on an inbounds play. And then Darius Johnson-Odom did the rest.
Star of the game: Johnson-Odom scored a career-high 26, hitting one dagger after another for the Golden Eagles. Teammate Jae Crowder struggled with his shot, but still finished with 20 points and 12 boards. Maurice Sutton deserves a mention despite the loss. The little-used junior, pressed into service thanks to foul trouble for Mouphtaou Yarou and Markus Kennedy, was everywhere for the Wildcats, diving on loose balls and tipping inbounds passes. He scored 11 and added nine rebounds.
For starters: Maybe the best news of the first half for Villanova was that the Wildcats led by 10 and Wayns wasn’t the leading scorer. Villanova’s guard has had to do almost everything for the Cats this year, but James Bell and Dominic Cheek took charge against Marquette. Each had 11 to lead Villanova to a 46-36 edge. It would have been worse without Johnson-Odom. The guard scored 10 points in a row and swished a shake-and-bake 3 to end the half, giving him 13 and keeping the Golden Eagles in it. The game might force Big East officials to reconsider using six fouls for its games. The two teams were whistled for 25 fouls and each coach got hit with a technical.
What’s next: Marquette hosts Seton Hall on Tuesday, while Villanova gets a week off before traveling to Pittsburgh for a game on Super Bowl Sunday.