WASHINGTON – Breitbart Sports made Marquette a slight favorite in Thursday’s game against Miami, while ESPN ranked Marquette as the worst team in the Sweet 16. Marquette lead by double digits for the final 27 minutes and 52 seconds of the game, and led by 22 points until Miami hit four of five three-pointers and some dunks in the final 2:19 to make the final score look respectable at 71-61.
Miami led for a total of 56 seconds in this game, at 2-0 and 4-2. Jamil came off the bench to drain a three-pointer with 9:11 to give Marquette its first double digit lead at 17-7, then hit another one with to make it 22-10 with 7:52 to go in the first half and Miami never cut it back to single digits.
Scoring off the bench is nothing new for Marquette, which has been in the top five in bench scoring all year. The team’s star Vander Blue has said that Wilson is the top player on the team despite coming off the bench. Breitbart Sports and Value Add made Marquette the favorite partly because the 290-pound Davante Gardner is ranked as the 51st best player in the country despite coming off the bench, and Miami’s 292-pound defensive anecdote Reggie Johnson was out for the game.
Blue hit 7 of 12 shots, seeming to find every hole in the Miami defense for a mid-range jumper, including running the clock down at the end of the half before draining a 13-footer to make it 29-16 going into the half. Wilson hit five of nine shots including three three-pointers, grabbed eight rebounds, and had Marquette’s only three blocked shots. Gardner hit five of seven shots, and sank all four free throws to chants of “automatic, automatic,” from the Marquette cheering section rather than the normal quite, as the 290-pounder came into the game hitting 84 percent of his free throws.
However, the games top player may have been Trent Lockett, who transferred after three years at Arizona State without sitting a year because he had already graduated. His senior leadership helped Marquette through an initially successful press by Miami. He also set the tone early when Blue missed a jumper, and Lockett came from his guard position to slam the rebound over bigger Miami players to make it 19-10. It was one of 11 rebounds for Lockett, giving Marquette a surprising 35-31 edge on the boards.
Another bench star for Marquette was Derrick Wilson, who was offered a scholarship as a running back by Syracuse, but chose to play basketball at Marquette instead. He gave starting point guard Junior Cadougan breathers to keep pressure on Miami star Shane Larkin, as Larkin’s legendary father and former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin watched from the stands.
While a defensive specialist, Derrick Wilson did dish out three assists and even went between his legs on a dribble to beat a press by Larkin on one occasion.
Larkin still had a solid outing with 14 points and four assists to only one turnover, but he was made to work for everything and was only able to get up eight shots.
Miami hit only 4 of 21 three-pointers in falling behind 69-47 with 2:30 to play in the game, and only hitting four of five in the final 2:09 made the final score and their shooting look respectable.
After escaping by a total of three points and against Davidson and Butler in the first two tournament games, Marquette seemed to know every hole in the Miami defense and how far they had to push Maimi’s three-pointer shooters beyond the arc to force misses.