Marquette going to need great half

March, 22, 2009
03/22/09
6:36
PM ET
BOISE, Idaho -- Jerel McNeal hit a 3-pointer as time expired at the end of the first half between Marquette and Missouri.

Before that shot, the Golden Eagles' last field goal came with 12 minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the half.

That field goal -- a layup by Jimmy Butler -- gave Marquette a 17-11 lead; Missouri leads 46-35 at the half.

Marquette hit 15 free throws in the final 12 minutes of the first half to keep the game relatively close, but Missouri has dominated with speed, defense and efficient shooting.

Missouri freshman Kimmie English made the first half his very own coming out party. The guard leads all scorers with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and he played only 6 minutes.

Marquette guard Dominic James played 13 minutes in the first half and did very little. He limped most of the time, played spotty defense and offered little help on offense. Missouri started to go after him early in the first half, but started running him across the court and into screens later in the half to get open shots.

As I wrote in an earlier post, James is a liability. When he has the ball, there's no sense of urgency. His teammates back off waiting for him to do something and most of the time he's been dribbling the ball in between his legs, waiting for someone to help.

It's clear that Marquette can't keep up with Missouri's pace and it doesn't look like the Golden Eagles have a point guard efficient enough to execute the offense against the Tigers' defense. Guards Wesley Matthews and McNeal are going to have to have the half of their lives to pull out a Marquette victory because even though Missouri is going to put them on the line, the Tigers are scoring too quickly to keep up.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.

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