By Dan Gardella
Brooklyn, NY – When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not. That saying applied to the Marquette Golden Eagles, who entered the NIT Season Tip Off against Kansas, a team no one expected them to defeat.
It was a tale of two halves for the Golden Eagles, who got outscored in the second half 39-21 en route to a 77-68 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the second game of the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip Off.
From the tip, Marquette was hot from three point land, which has been a staple in the Golden Eagle offense over the past few seasons. Markus Howard would open the scoring with a triple. The Golden Eagles would hold a lead for the first four minutes of the game before Kansas took the lead with a pair of Quentin Grimes free throws to put the Jayhawks on top 9-8.
Kansas would have the lead until Sacar Anim would knock down a three to give the Golden Eagles a 23-22 lead ten minutes in. From there, Marquette would begin to cook offensively, specifically from the arc. For every Kansas point, it seemed that Marquette would double it.
Marquette would use eleven three pointers in the opening twenty minutes and shoot 54% from the field to go into the locker room leading 47-38.
“We were so bad in the first half. We were so slow and they were so quick. They had us on our heels,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I think they shocked us more than anything.”
It was safe to say the college basketball world was put on notice of what was going down in Brooklyn.
Although they were trailing by a substantial amount, the Jayhawks, along with their new pieces clicked and were automatic in the second half. They held Marquette scoreless for the first nine minutes of the half while going on a 22-0 run of their own to turn an eleven point halftime deficit into an eleven point lead.
“We turned the ball over and we gave them easy baskets. You can’t do that against a team like Kansas,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski. “In order to beat a team like that you have to play forty minutes.”
After going 11-21 from three, Marquette would not be able to get anything to fall regardless of who was shooting it. The two offensive leaders for the Golden Eagles in Howard and Sam Hauser, who combined for 30 points and nine three pointers in the first half, would only shoot a weak 2-15 in the second half.
On a night where freshman star Quentin Grimes would struggle from the field, it was another newcomer on the Jayhawks who would give them the lift they needed. Dedric Lawson recorded his second double-double on the young season, with 26 points and 12 rebounds to propel Kansas.
“I was just aggressive,” Kansas forward Dedric Lawson said. “I was more locked in defensively. I was freer in my mind. I was going out there not thinking about other things.”
Kansas will now get their second top-ten matchup in their first four games when they take on Tennessee, who knocked off Louisville in the first game. Marquette will face Louisville in the consolation game of the tournament. Both games are on Friday at the Barclay’s Center.