MILWAUKEE -- Marquette let Jacksonville hang around for the
first 15 minutes before pulling away for an easy win.
Jae Crowder scored a season-high 27 points to lead No. 16
Marquette past Jacksonville 88-56 on Monday night.
Darius Johnson-Odom scored 11 of his 19 points in the first half
for the Golden Eagles (6-0) and helped steady a shaky offense.
Vander Blue had just three points for Marquette, but it was his
work away from the ball that made a real contribution. He set a
career high with seven assists and tied career highs with nine
rebounds and four steals.
Marquette, playing for the first time since winning the Paradise
Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands last Monday, improved to its second
6-0 start in three seasons. The Golden Eagles also gained some
momentum for Saturday's key matchup with intrastate rival Wisconsin (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP).
"One, it's our first big test with Wisconsin," Crowder said.
"I feel like we're ready. I think we're a step ahead of where we
were last year going into this game. We'll be ready for it."
Letting Jacksonville hang around for the first 15 minutes wasn't
due to fatigue or rust, just poor defense, according to Crowder.
"We felt like we just had to tighten up a few things
defensively," he said. "We knew they were going to come into the
game and hit a lot of 3s. We felt defensively we had to take that
The Dolphins were 6 for 14 on 3-pointers in the first half to
keep the game close.
"Sixty percent of their points in the first half came from
3s," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. "That's not a good
combination. I thought we were a lot better in the second half."
After the break, Marquette limited the Dolphins to just 3 for 12
"Make them drive it," Crowder said of the defensive strategy.
"One through five can shoot 3s. So we had to make them drive."
Delwan Graham's 13 points led the Dolphins (2-4), who played a
ranked opponent for the second consecutive game. Jacksonville lost
107-62 at Florida (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) on Friday.
Crowder scored 10 points during a 29-9 run that bridged halftime
and helped turn a close game into a blowout. His 3-pointer and
three-point play pushed Marquette's lead to 59-37 with 13:21 left.
Johnson-Odom, the Paradise Jam's MVP, came up big late in the
first half. The Dolphins seemed intent on making an upset bid, but
he converted a three-point play after a Dolphins' turnover. Glenn
Powell missed a jumper and Johnson-Odom grabbed the rebound. After
a timeout, he took a crisp pass from Junior Cadougan, who had six
assists, and made a 3 at the buzzer for a 37-28 lead.
"We turned the ball over there," Jacksonville's head coach
Cliff Warren said. "We had a shot inside that we didn't finish that
would have cut it two. Instead, Johnson-Odom hits a tough 3-pointer
at the buzzer and we're down nine."
Jacksonville kept the game close despite 10 turnovers and
shooting 36.7 percent from the floor. Without Johnson-Odom's
leadership and scoring, it might have been worse.
Johnson-Odom's early five points helped the Golden Eagles build
a seven-point margin, but the scrappy Dolphins fought back on four
3-pointers, including one from Chris Davis that gave Jacksonville a
one-point lead with less than 6 minutes to go in the first half.
Johnson-Odom took over and gave Marquette a 37-28 lead at the
Davis was 4 for 5 from 3-point range and finished with 12 points
and Tevin Galvin 10 for the Dolphins.
Freshman Todd Mayo added a career-high 14 points for Marquette.
The Dolphins went to the line for the first time early in the
second half when Graham was fouled on a drive to the hoop. He
converted the three-point play to cut Marquette's lead to 10.