After a slow start, the Louisville Cardinals were able to regain their composure and defeat Marquette 81-56 to advance to the semi-finals of the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles gave the Cards an early scare when they jumped out to an 11-2 lead to start the game. Louisville struck back with a 9-0 run to tie it up which accounted for the 44th time that the Cards have gone on a run of 8-0 or better this season. Louisville continued to battle and went in at halftime with a 36-31 lead. In the second half, the floodgates opened and the Cards were able put it on cruise control. A mixture of great shooting by Louisville and poor execution by Marquette resulted in a snoozer mid-way through the second half.
The Cardinals vastly improved their game from end to end after their poor performance against WVU last Saturday. After being out-rebounded 2 to 1 by the Mountaineers last weekend, the Cards bounced back in a big way by out-rebounding the Golden Eagles 43-37.
The essence of the Cardinals victory however was balance and unselfishness. Of Louisville’s 30 field goals, 24 were assisted on. The same can’t be said for Marquette who only generated 7 assists on their 17 made field goals.
Leading the Cardinals with 22 points was Mike Marra who after coming off the bench in the first half, caught fire from beyond the arc. Marra went 6 of 10 from three-point land and the Cardinals as a whole shot a solid 13-31 from behind the three-point line. Marra was one of four Cardinals to reach double figures in points. Senior guard Preston Knowles contributed 15 points while adding 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Junior Kyle Kuric added 11 points while racking up 7 rebounds while center Terrence Jennings added 11 points. The Cards most explosive player, Peyton Siva only had 8 points in the game but distributed the ball beautifully resulting in 9 assists.
The Golden Eagles were able to produce three players in double digits despite only scoring 56 total points. Senior Jimmy Butler led the team with 14 points and 6 rebounds while Darius Johnson-Odom accumulated 13 points throughout the game. Jae Crowder also scored 10 points and was the only Marquette player to hit multiple 3-pointers.
The Cardinals now move on to play #2 seed Notre Dame tomorrow at 9pm EST. In their only meeting this season, The Fighting Irish were able to defeat the Cardinals 89-79 in South Bend. The winner of that game will take on the winner Syracuse and Connecticut in the Big East Championship on Saturday.
About the Author
Written by John Buffone
John was born in Rural Valley, Pennsylvania. He attended Clarion University and received a degree in Mass Media Arts and Journalism. He currently hosts "The Sports Zone with John Buffone" on AM 1380 WTYM in Kittanning, PA. John is also a sports columnist for the Kittanning Paper and a contributor to Examiner.com, and CatholicSportsJournal.com.