Three days before embarking on their seventh season of Big East league play, the Marquette Golden Eagles played host to Vanderbilt for their final non-conference test of the 2011-12 campaign.
Needless to say, Buzz Williams’ squad did not earn a passing mark on Thursday night.
While the Bradley Center has served as a bastion of success for the Golden Eagles over the past two years—MU had won 22 of their past 24 home contests dating back to last season—the BC proved to be a house of horrors for the blue and gold as they were soundly beaten by the Commodores, 74-57.
Suffering their most lopsided defeat since falling to North Carolina by 18 points in the Sweet 16 on March 25, No. 14 Marquette (11-2) ended the night by shooting a season-low 32.2 percent from the floor (19-59), 20.0 percent from beyond the arc (3-15), 53.3 percent at the foul line (16-30), turned the ball over 14 times, allowed the second most points scored by an opponent this season, shot 1-16 to open the game and trailed 31-6 with 8:49 to play in the first half.
In other words, there proved to be little for the 15,684 in attendance to cheer about.
Vanderbilt (9-4), who opened the season ranked No. 7 in the AP poll, secured their first triumph over a ranked opponent this season—the Commodores lost consecutive games in overtime to then No. 11 Xavier and No. 4 Louisville on Nov. 28 and Dec. 2—and third overall.
“Everybody knows we had a lot of close games and some games we probably shouldn’t have lost,” said Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins, according to the AP. “So getting a road win like this is really big for our confidence and moving forward going into the SEC.”
Paced by Jeffrey Taylor’s game-high 19 points and Lance Goulbourne’s 13-point, 16-rebound showing, Kevin Stallings’ club connected on 10 three-point baskets (including seven in the opening frame) and shot 46.9 percent (23-49) en route to their first coup over a Big East club since upending MU 77-76 one year ago to the day.
Upon scoring the first bucket of the night on a layup by Davante Gardner (who picked up two quick fouls within the game’s first five minutes) 37 seconds in, the Golden Eagles were soundly dominated the rest of the way.
Beginning with a triple by Goulbourne, Vandy rattled off a mind-boggling 28-4 run over the subsequent 10-plus minutes to put MU in a hole which seemed to stretch for miles.
While the Commodores scored via dunks, mid-range jumpers, free throws and from the great beyond, MU, who shot 21.2 percent (7-33) in the first half, found themselves in an offensive drought in which the boys from the Brew City, due to a stifling interior defense executed by Vanderbilt, tossed up 24 jumpers and only eight shots from inside the paint throughout the first half.
When the horn for the intermission sounded—a more than welcoming audio for the Golden Eagles—Vanderbilt, behind the 22 combined points from Brad Tinsley and John Jenkins (the SEC’s leading scorer at 20.8 ppg), held a 44-22 advantage.
Jae Crowder, who misfired on his first seven field goal attempts and finished with 16 points, led MU into the break with seven points while freshman Todd Mayo added six points off the bench.
Connecting on their first three shots to open the second half, MU winnowed the deficit to 46-29 with 18:45 to play; however the Commodores, on the strength of six points from Jeffrey Taylor, stretched its lead to 57-32 at the 14:17 mark.
The Golden Eagles, who harassed the Commodores into 17 miscues on the game, pulled to within 64-48 after a layup by Junior Cadougan, but it would be as close as they would get.
MU, playing their first game since upending UW-Milwaukee on Dec. 22, returns to action on Sunday when they welcome the Villanova Wildcats into the Bradley Center.
– Marquette fell to 3-3 all time against Vanderbilt.
– Since serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules on December 17, Johnson-Odom, who finished with 13 points, has shot a combined 15-38 (39.5 percent) from the field in MU’s past three contests.
– 6’11”, 255-pound senior Festus Ezeli returned to the lineup for the Commodores after missing the past two games due to a knee injury. The native of Benin City, Nigeria finished with eight points, seven rebounds and one steal in 17 minutes.
– The Golden Eagles topped the Commodores in points in the paint, 26-20, and bench scoring, 22-13. Vanderbilt, though, trumped MU in points off turnovers, 16-13; second chance points; and rebounds, 39-35.