It may only be January, but it will be tough to top the comeback that Louisville had against Marquette on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles had built a lead as they kept the Cardinals from getting into any kind of a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor, holding them to just three three-pointers in the first 35 minutes of the game. After two free throws from Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette was up by 18 points with just 5:45 left on the clock.
That’s when Preston Knowles took over.
In the final 5:11, Knowles hit four three pointers and had two assists as Louisville used a 15-0 run to get back into the game. Jae Crowder and Dwight Buycks both scored big buckets to stem the tide, but four straight free throws from Terrence Jennings cut the lead to 70-69 with 24 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Buycks took an ill-advised, contested layup. The shot was blocked by Jennings, and after a Rick Pitino timeout, Preston Knowles came off of two picks before finding Kyle Kuric, who rolled to the rim unguarded, for a layup with four seconds left in the game to give the Cardinals the lead.
Jimmy Butler had a last second jumper from about 14 feet, but he came up short.
I think it is safe to say that Marquette fans are sick of being on the wrong end of a close game.
Coming into Saturday’s early morning tip against Louisville, Marquette had five losses on the season. All five were to NCAA Tournament teams, and all five came by less than nine points. The same thing happened last season, when Marquette suffered just one loss by more than nine points.
It is fair to say that Marquette has been unlucky the past two seasons.
But this afternoon wasn’t luck.
It was poor execution and decision making by Marquette down the stretch, who were burned when Knowles caught fire late in the game.