Game analysis: Marquette finished 11th in the Big East and some argued – rather loudly – that the Golden Eagles didn’t belong in the field of 68. Yeah, right. Hello Sweet 16. Marquette pounced on a critical Syracuse turnover and made enough plays down the stretch to advance to Newark for the Sweet 16 after a 66-62 victory over the Orange in a third-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
How Syracuse lost: The turnovers, all 18 of ’em, were damaging as Marquette scored 23 points off Orange miscues. Marquette took away Rick Jackson’s offense in the low post and Buzz Williams move to put 6-7 Jimmy Butler on point guard Scoop Jardine, making Jardine’s passing angles more difficult, is one of the reasons why Williams is so respected by his peers.
Turning point: The Orange’s final turnover of the season came with 51 seconds left on a backcourt violation when freshman Dion Waiters threw a bad pass toward Scoop Jardine who stepped on the halfcourt line. The game was tied at 59 which was quickly broken on a three-pointer by Darius Johnson-Odom. Marquette never trailed again.
Player of the game: Johnson-Odom scored 17 points to lift the Golden Eagles to the round of 16 for the first time since 2003.
Stat of the game: Syracuse was 1-for-8 from long range in the second half.
Stat of the other game: Ohio State outscored George Mason 50-15 to end the first half in what turned out to be a 98-66 Buckeyes laugher. The way they played on Sunday, no one in Newark will be able to keep up with the Buckeyes.
He said it: “We weren’t sure what Sweet 16 meant other than it was our 16th birthday.’’ Marquette coach Buzz Williams whose team joins Ohio State, Kentucky and North Carolina in the East Regional.
What it means: Syracuse finishes its season at 27-8. They only lose Rick Jackson from the starting lineup although there have been rumblings that Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine could put their names in the NBA Draft pool. Yo Scoop, the water is too cold my man.
Up next: If everyone returns and factor in the expected improvement of freshmen Waiters, C.J. Fair and Fab Melo, the Orange will challenge for the Big East crown in 2011-12.
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