It just wasn’t in the cards for Marquette tonight.
After racing to a 13-0 lead in the first 3:30 of the game, the Golden Eagles imploded. They managed just 10 points in the final 16 minutes of the first half to find themselves down 26-23 at the break and allowed LSU’s Ralston Turner, who went for 22 points, to hit a pair of big threes down the stretch as LSU handed the No. 10 team in the country their first loss of the season, 67-59.
Marquette just couldn’t find any kind of rhythm on the offensive end of the floor on Monday night. After building that 13-0 lead, Marquette shot just 31.3 percent from the floor and looked utterly discombobulated in their sets. Too often their offense deteriorated into ill-advised drives and tough, contested jumpers. Case in point: Marquette finished the night with just seven assists while turning the ball over 14 times. Darius Johnson-Odom had six of those turnovers by himself.
Some of the blame can probably be put on the timing of this game. With the holidays right around the corner and finals over, its far from inconceivable that the Golden Eagles came into this game expecting to roll over an LSU team that has been a pushover for a couple of seasons now.
But LSU deserves a ton of credit for this win.
The Bayou Bengals are a capable defensive team, and they succeeded in out-mucking a team that has survived on their ability to win a dogfight.
Ralston Turner was terrific, getting his 22 points on 6-10 shooting from the floor and hitting 4-5 from deep. Justin Hamilton scored all 13 of his points in the second half — including seven big free throws down the stretch — and Storm Warren added 10 points, but the real difference maker in this game was Anthony Hickey.
Just a freshman, Hickey — a point guard that hails from the same hometown in Kentucky as Scotty Hopson — simply made things happen on both ends of the floor. He finished with eight points, six assists, five rebounds and (most importantly) four steals and two blocks. Hickey, as well as Chris Bass (who also notched four steals), was a huge reason that Marquette had so much trouble running their offensive sets.
Marquette was clearly not on their game tonight. This is a team that came into the game as one of the best in the country at shooting the basketball, and they couldn’t get anything to drop. LSU kept them from getting into any kind of rhythm after the first couple of possessions, which meant that, down the stretch, Marquette started to miss some pretty good looks.
The final score doesn’t do justice to the kind of performance that LSU had tonight. Think about this — LSU won by eight points despite falling behind 13-0, shooting 14-27 from the free throw line and turning the ball over 18 times.
Clearly, this team still has things to work on, but LSU has been surging over the last couple of weeks. They’ve now won five games in a row, which includes roadies against Houston and Rutgers and a dominating performance against Boise State.
Putting together a win like this over a quality is certainly a sign that Trent Johnson has this program trending in the right direction.