Instant Analysis: Marquette has too many weapons for Kentucky
Editor's Note: ESPN.com's Ted Miller provides instant analysis of the Kentucky-Marquette first-round game in the NCAA tournament.
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Marquette's balance proved too much for scrappy Kentucky, and that muted a 35-point effort from Wildcats senior guard Joe Crawford in a 74-66 Golden Eagles victory.
Crawford was sensational, hitting five of eight of his 3-point attempts, but Jerel McNeal (20 points), Lazar Hayward (16), Dominic James (15) and Wesley Matthews (13) just gave the Eagles too many counter options.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: On the boards and turnovers -- that's where Marquette dominated. Kentucky only lost the turnover battle 11-7, but Marquette outscored the Wildcats 20-6 in points off those turnovers. Toss in a 34-26 advantage in rebounding -- including a 15-9 lead on the offensive glass -- and it's not too hard to see where the final margin came from.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: It's impossible not to recognize Crawford's numbers, even in a losing effort. He was 13 of 22 from the field and carried the Wildcats much of the afternoon -- at least until fellow senior guard Ramel Bradley joined the fray in the final minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME: 23 of 29. That's Marquette's tally from the free-throw line (79.3 percent), with James (8 of 10) and Matthews (9-10) doing much of the damage. Matthews in particular was clutch late. The Eagles hit at a 70 percent clip during the regular season. Kentucky was 12 of 17.
BEST OFF THE BENCH: This one was all about the starters. Kentucky got just two points from its bench; Marquette got six points.
WHAT IT MEANS: It means, after consecutive first-round exits, juniors James and McNeal get that monkey off Marquette's back. The Eagles also now own an impressive 6-4 advantage in NCAA tournament games with Kentucky. And, by the way, the last time Marquette beat the Wildcats in the tournament, it begat a Final Four berth.
TURNING POINT: Kentucky jumped ahead 10-4 on the back of a pair of 3-pointers from Bradley and Crawford, but Marquette started to take control in the paint, where every point came during a 12-0 run that put the Golden Eagles ahead 16-10 at the 10-minute mark. Beyond that, four Kentucky turnovers, including two offensive fouls, led to eight of Marquette's points.
TURNING POINT II: The first half certainly played out at Kentucky's methodical pace, which is why this one was just 33-29 at the break. Neither team registered a fast-break basket until the Wildcats' Crawford slammed home an alley-oop dunk at the four-minute mark to tie the score at 23. McNeal immediately answered on the other end with the Eagles' first trey of the game. Marquette attacked the basketball and consistently created good looks, but too often drives came up empty. Still, Hayward's 3-pointer on the half's final possession gave the Eagles momentum heading into the locker room.
PLAYER OF THE HALF: When Kentucky wavered during Marquette's first run, Crawford asserted himself. He led all scorers with 12 points and also added three rebounds and two assists. He was able to consistently drive through the tough Eagles defense.
STAT OF THE HALF: The conventional wisdom is Marquette would control this game inside. And a 12-0 run certainly justified that thinking. But at the break, both teams had 14 points in the paint. Though Marquette owned a 21-15 rebounding advantage -- and seven second-chance points to four -- it wasn't able to completely dominate inside, which is why this game remained close.
STAT OF THE HALF II: While Dominic James is the first name that most folks think of with Marquette, Hayward and McNeal carried the Eagles in the first half, each scoring nine points, while James contributed only three.
PREGAME JOY: Marquette set up what I will call "A Ring of Joy," forming a circle and bouncing around with a nice clockwise rotation before the opening tip. Kentucky didn't do that. Might be an important factor when this one is in the books.
Ted Miller is a college football and basketball writer for ESPN.com.
NCAA Tournament 2008
Analysis• Katz: Sneak peek at Sweet 16
• Forde: Dorsey a confusing, entertaining enigma
• Low: Vols figuring out unsteady point-guard play
• Schlabach: Horn, Lee break through at WKU
• Dinich: Davidson proves it is no one-man show
• ATR: UCLA wins, Day 3 recaps
• Katz: Neitzel shoots Spartans into Sweet 16
• Gene Woj: Trent Johnson nearly costs his team
• Miller: Tough to stop Cardinal's Twin Towers
• Griffin: Wisconsin gives vintage performance
• O'Neil: WVU players embrace Huggs' toughness
• ATR: The end to IU's tumultuous season
• Katz: What's on tap for the weekend?
• Forde: Tampa was awesome ... wish I was there
• Schlabach: Still can't believe the 'Tampa Turmoil'
• Schlabach: Siena joins upset party in Tampa
• Schlabach: USD's Grier no long in the shadows
• Schlabach: WKU's Rogers hits 'dream' shot
• Dinich: Curry puts on a show against Gonzaga
• ATR: Arizona's questions, Pitt and MSU roll
• O'Neil: Belmont lets Duke upset slip away
• Griffin: Beasley, Walker team up to down USC
• Gene Woj: Kentucky's roller coaster ends
• O'Neil: Xavier survives Dawgs' upset bid
• Forde: Best case/Worst case scenarios
• Lunardi: Ranking the teams 64-1
• Experts: "Best of" lists for tourney
• Whelliston: Mount St. Mary's honors friend
• Forde: Bruce Pearl's purgatory
• Katz: Officiating has had a rough season
• Gottlieb: Scrutiny on officials higher than ever
• Katz: Mayo, Love exceed freshman expectations
• Rittenberg: Baby Boilers lead Purdue to Dance
• Wojciechowski: Liking Psycho T isn't about race
• Bilas: Grading the committee and talking snubs
• Regions: East | South | West | Midwest
• Forde: Super-sized edition of Forde Minutes
• O'Neil: Serendipitous storylines fill bracket
• Katz: Committee chair talks hot topics
• Wojciechowski: 15 suggestions to improve Dance
• Dinich: UNC's Tobacco Road to San Antonio
News• Curry says he's returning to Davidson next year
• Ford Field, Reliant raise NCAA tourney to new level
• UCLA's Mbah a Moute to have MRI
• Nova's Drummond done for season
• Vols' Pearl explains decision to start Prince
• Stanford's Johnson not changing after ejection
• UConn: Price tore ACL, likely to miss six months
• Love, Mbah a Moute on mend for UCLA
• Arkansas' Weems hurts knee, expected to play
Video• Vitale: Rounds 1 & 2 MVP
• Vitale: Round 1 prime-time players
• Gottlieb: Mid-majors make their mark
• Lunardi: Video previews for all 65
• Breaking down the East region
• Breaking down the West Region
• Breaking down the Midwest region
• Breaking down the South region
• ESPN experts fill out their brackets
Audio• Podcast: Bilas looks at Thursday's games
• Podcast: Gottlieb makes bracket predictions
Strategies• Tiernan: "Low-risk" bracket strategy
• Tiernan: "Medium" bracket advice
• Tiernan: "High-risk" bracket strategy
• Tiernan: "Dangerous" bracket advice
Photos• Day 4 photo gallery
• Day 3 photo gallery
• Day 2 photo gallery
• Day 1 photo gallery
More• Tournament Challenge | Bracket Master
• Insider tourney guide | BracketCaster