If you only look at the final score of No. 18 Marquette’s 79-69 win over No. 16 Pitt on Saturday afternoon, you probably wouldn’t be that impressed with the outcome.
The No. 18 team in the country is supposed to be their Big East brethren at home, regardless of whether or not they are ranked or not.
But what the final score doesn’t tell you is that the Golden Eagles absolutely shredded a Pitt team that has been one of the best in the country on the defensive end of the floor this season.
The Golden Eagles scored 79 points, the most that the Panthers have given up in a game this season. They shot 56.5% from the floor, assisting on 18 of their 26 field goals, while knocking down 5-11 from three. They scored in the paint, they scored off the break, they got to the offensive glass. Marquette scored 1.27 PPP against a team that has given up just 0.889 PPP this season. That’s impressive.
It was a statement that the Golden Eagles needed to make.
Marquette hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record in Big East play since January 12th, when they won at Pitt in overtime. That came after a one point home win over Georgetown and an overtime win over UConn at the Bradley Center. Combine that with the pounding they took at Louisville and the struggles they had putting away teams like Seton Hall and DePaul, and there was reason to be skeptical of the fact that Buzz Williams had his team tied for first place in the Big East heading into the weekend.
They justified that standing on Saturday. Vander Blue’s not a star, but he has emerged into a go-to guy on a team loaded with perimeter options. They can beat teams off the dribble, they pass the ball well and they have a pair centers that compliment each other perfectly. This is a group that looks like they are good enough to win the Big East.
They’ll have their work cut out for them the rest of the way, with four of their last six games coming on the road and the two homes games coming against Syracuse and Notre Dame.
But if the Golden Eagles play like they did on Saturday, they’ll have a chance at the regular season title.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.