The Cincinnati Bearcats (17-7 7-4) travel to Milwaukee to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles (20-5 9-3) Saturday afternoon at 3 pm on ESPNU.
Marquette head coach Buzz Williams
Flirting With Disaster
With their 9-3 Big East record the Golden Eagles sit alone at 2nd place in the Big East standings, but things have been far from easy more often than not.
They have found themselves falling down big early on 4 occasions in conference play before rallying to win. The faced 1st half deficits of 16 against Louisville, 18 to Villanova, 11 to Seton Hall and most recently 12 versus DePaul.
Those 4 games span the last 7 Marquette has played in Big East action, and they also dropped a 76-59 contest last week at Notre Dame.
They have been able to overcome the sluggish starts by playing excellent out of the half, where they have outscored opponents 1,028 to 853 on the season, but you can only go to that well so many times before it jumps up and bites you.
For a program that has relied on playing smaller lineups in recent years, they came into this season with some experienced beef inside with 6-foot-11 265 pound Chris Otule and 6-foot-8 295 pound Devante Gardner.
Otule tore his ACL in early December and is out for the season while Gardner suffered a knee injury against Villanova on January 28th and has not yet returned to action.
They have been forced to go much smaller with 6-foot-7 220 pound sophomore Jamil Wilson taking over the starting center duties and getting relief from 6-foot-6 starting power forward Jae Crowder.
Crowder, who is already more of a small forward in style of play, is 2nd on the team in scoring at 16 points a night, but has only put up a combined 18 points in the previous two games.
Wilson had a breakout game against DePaul with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and has blocked at least one shot in each of Marquette's last 9 games. He appears to be settling in to his new expanded role on the floor.
While Crowder is a very solid second option on the offensive end, the Golden Eagles look to senior forward Darius Johnson-Odom as their clear go to guy.
He leads the team in makes and attempts in field goals, 3 pointers and free throws on the season and is also 2nd in assists.
He is a crafty offensive threat from anywhere on the floor, and keeping him in check is no easy task as he has scored in double figures in all 24 games he has appeared with 20 or more 9 times. The Golden Eagles have not lost a game this season where he has topped the 20 point plateau.
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