An inability to hold a lead and maintain consistency prevented no. 21 Louisville from defeating no. 22 Marquette Monday afternoon. The Golden Eagles rallied back after a horrible start to beat the Cardinals 74-63 and improve to 15-4 with a Big East record of 4-2 while the Cardinals fell to 14-5 overall with a Big East record of 2-4.
The Cardinals started the game on fire and looked like they were ready to put the game away early after leading 18-2 early in the first half. As the half progressed however, a combination of forced shots by Louisville and an increase in offensive efficiency by Marquette allowed the Golden Eagles to go on a 14-2 run to get right back into the game. Another 11-0 run by Marquette later in the half tied the game and 30 and ultimately gave the Golden Eagles a 34-30 lead at halftime. The second half was more of the same as Marquette was able to keep a lethargic and sloppy Cardinals team at an arm’s length for the rest of the day.
Sophomore guard Russ Smith led the Cardinals with 20 points but scored 13 of them in the first half. Senior guard Chris Smith also started strong with 11 first half points but fizzled down the stretch to end the game with 19 points. The Cards were hot from behind the arc early, hitting 4 of their first 5 three-pointers but ended the first half 5-of-13 and finished the game 7-of-23. Louisville’s offensive struggles were in part due to the absence of senior guard-forward Kyle Kuric who missed his second straight game because of a high ankle sprain.
Leading the Golden Eagles in points was senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom who scored 19 points. Senior forward Jae Crowder had a double-double after scoring 14 points and bringing in 11 rebounds. Marquette’s bench also outshined Louisville’s, scoring 15 to the Cardinals’ 3.
Marquette’s comeback draws a distant comparison of the matchup between the two teams last year where Louisville came back from 18 with 5:44 to go in the game to defeat the Golden Eagles 71-70.
Louisville is likely to fall out of the top 25 for the first time this season after being ranked as high as no. 4 back in December. Since then, the Cardinals have lost five of their last seven games. Louisville will try to get their season back on track this Saturday when they travel to Pitt to take on a struggling Panthers squad that hasn’t won a game since December 20. Tip off is set for 9:00pm.
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.