Gotta give Marquette credit for wanting to play basketball the way it is meant to be played, going at breakneck speed, employing a full court press, attacking the basket, relentless.
Playing right into the hands of the University of Louisville, a team hungry for a fast-paced game after navigating an interminable obstacle course of Princeton wannabes the last five games.
Feasting on it, gobbling it down, going back for seconds, dishing out an 84-71 defeat to the No. 2 seed, UofL advancing to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. No miracle comebacks, no last second shots so typical of the UofL-Marquette rivalry needed, thank you.
- Peyton Siva silencing his critics for a night with one of the best performances of his career, weaving in, around, between and behind the disoriented MU defenders. Not the same little guy they saw on film, this one with 18 points, six steals and seven rebounds. The box score gives him only six assists, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story.
- Show time for Russ Smith. Back on the big stage, back home, back in New York. Conducting clinics on defense and free throw shooting. Don’t even think about a cross-over dribble, he’ll make you pay, totally disrupting and demoralizing, resulting in six steals and lot of red faces. Six of six from the free throw line, each one critical, never in doubt.
- Kyle Kuric acting on what Rick Pitino has been urging him to do, dumping the docility, becoming creative, shooting like every shot is going in, getting to the boards. Actually smiling again, having fun, leading all scorers with 20 points. Four rebounds, two blocked shots as well.
- Who knew Gorgui Dieng had the ability or inclination to commit a technical foul? Not when he goes up for a rebound and a defender slips beneath him, the last thing anyone expects is a whistle and a foul. He looks more energetic this game, with his nine rebounds. Don’t forget the steal, he worked hard for it.
- When Dieng gets three fouls in the first half, one expects a sad ending for UofL. But Jared Swopshire wasn’t buying, he was playing his best game ever, falling just short of his first-ever double-double with 11 rebounds and eight points. So that’s why Pitino keeps putting him in in crucial situations. More of the same would be a tremendous boost to this UofL basketball team.
A welcome respite from the bump-and-grind, a return to fun basketball, the run and gun, almost as many shots (77) as points. What a welcome relief. Savor it because it’s probably back to the bump-and-grind Friday night. Sharpen up the knives for a meat-and-potato game.