Wanna Get Away?

A limited number of tickets for U of L basketball games against Big East opponents on the road are available for sale through the ticket office.

Available games with ticket prices are as follows: Jan. 28 at UConn, $30; Feb. 4 at Marquette, $15; Feb. 16 at Providence, $17; and Feb. 24 at Pittsburgh, $27.50

Tickets may be purchased at the ticket office at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium or on the third floor of the Swain Student Activities Center. Ticket orders will also be accepted by telephone with a credit card by calling 852-5151.

Warning: Games are played in hostile environments.

Hazell’s Magic Treys

— Can’t feel too bad about that one, not with the freaky shooting of Jeremy Hazell. Taking shots he shouldn’t have been taking, shots going in that should have been clanking. More carnival than basketball.

— U of L played well enough to win, and should have won going away. Hazell apparently could have closed his eyes and still made those bombs.

— Hazell’s heretic heroics overshadowed great performances by U of L’s Jerry Smith and Seton Hall’s Brian Laing, applying skill over absurdity to collect 25 points apiece.

— All those club member bounces for Hazell’s teammates, balls bouncing wildly around the rim, then falling though the net, were frustrating as well.

— Outcome gives new meaning to better lucky than good.

— Starting to hate these trips to the New York area, with all of U of L’s New Yorkers rarely performing well for families and friends.

Get Feet On Ground

That sinking feeling is the adrenalin still draining after perfection against Marquette, a game in which almost everything went right right. Fans could be forgiven if they reveled in this one for at least a couple of days. Just like the good old days.

Forget that. Fans wouldn’t allow players to do it nor should fans do it. Road trip ahead.

Seton Hall University awaits. Players have to get on an airplane, head for Newark, NJ, hoping for none of the typical delays at airports en route to the Prudential Center.

Seton Hall is fresh off its first Big East success in four starts, a 74-64 win over South Florida at home Thursday. The Pirates lost at Marquette by only five points just over a week ago and at Pittsburgh by 14. They’re happy to be home, hoping to burst the bubble of a team they hope is still celebrating its best win of the season.

A test of maturity. Seton Hall will be pumped.

Making It Look Easy Not Easy

If you looked only at the final score, one might be tempted to think the win came almost too easily. That would be a mistake. The 20-point margin of victory was only possible because the Cards committed themselves to play 40 minutes of hellish defense.

Rotating, switching, anticipating, unrelenting, sliding those feet.

Small wonder the alma mater of Steve Novak and Travis Diener could not hit a three-point shot in a game for the first time since the 2000-01 season. Making two of their first 16 shots, managing only six points in the first 11 minutes of the first half. Averaging more than 80 points a game but held to only 51 points.

Marquette knew the visiting team often wins in this rivalry. The few times the Cards did relax, they saw how quickly the Golden Eagles could get back into a game, cutting U of L’s lead down to six points early in the second half. Marquette had 10 fast break points, U of L had four. The Cards had 16 turnovers, the Golden Eagles had only 13.

Jerry Smith missed all seven of his field goal attempts but was indispensible. Played 37 minutes of in-your-face defense, rarely allowing a shot, much less a three-point attempt. The U of L big men and, yes, that includes Derrick Caracter, are making it difficult for their counterparts around the basket. Started early in the UK game and continues.

You never notice Terrence Williams on defense but he must be doing his job or he wouldn’t be in — scoring 20 points to lead all scorers. David Padgett may have said it best. “If we keep playing good defense, and continue to work on our offense, we can be a pretty good team.”

Expect A Battle

Time to get serious about Marquette, an impressive team arriving at Freedom Hall with a nine-game winning streak. The Golden Eagles are 13-2 and rank 13th in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.

Marquette pounded a pretty good Notre Dame team 92-66 in its last game in Milwaukee, forcing 24 Irish turnovers while hitting 12 of 24 three-point attempts. The visitors are led by Dominic James, averaging 14.9 points per game.

* * *

FAMILIAR FACE — Jerry Smith is the last face Tom Crean wanted to see in Louisville. The Marquette coach actually offered a scholarship to Smith when Smith was in the eighth grade at Wauwatosa (Wis.) High School. Smith went on to become the state’s Mr. Basketball and was a three-time all-state selection, the first in the state’s history. One of the highlights of Smith’s career was the last second three-point shot that lifted U of L to a 61-59 win last February.

* * *

ETU JUAN — Not enough has been made of Juan Palacios joining U of L’s 1,000-point club, the 58th player to make it. He achieved the milestone in the win over Rutgers on Sunday. Rick Pitino, remember, predicted a red shirt year for Palacios.

* * *

GOLDEN EAGLES? Marquette arrives in town as the Golden Eagles for the second consecutive year. They junked the name Warriors a fews years ago. The administration changed the nickname to Gold but met great resistance from the students and alumni. Marquette was even known for many years as the Hilltoppers. With the growing animal rights movement, how long the Golden Eagles will be around is anyone’s guess.

* * *

CRACKED SIDEWALKS: A good place to get a Marquette perspective on the U of L-Marquette rivalry is Cracked Sidewalks. Now if he will share his secret about how he got the the arena in the background, we can look at adding Freedom Hall here.