Marquette gets best of WVU, 79-74
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. -- A season ago, West Virginia beat Marquette at home when Da'Sean Butler made the second of his season's six game-winning shots. The Mountaineers outrebounded the Golden Eagles that day, 34-22, and had a 12-4 edge in second-chance points.
Devin Ebanks led the effort with eight rebounds, including one late that he took on defense and turned into a dunk on the other end to set up Butler's basket.
This season's Mountaineers knew they'd be very different without those to around to help. Saturday's game against Marquette provided another illustration. WVU was outrebounded by 10 and bungled a bunch of plays late in a 79-74 loss before 15,575 inside the Bradley Center.
"The honest to God truth is we're not as athletic as we were," Coach Bob Huggins said. "Our guys can't make the same kind of plays Devin and Da'Sean made. We've got to be a little more precise with the basketball."
WVU (8-4, 0-2 Big East) has lost its first two conference games first the first time since 2002. The team plays at DePaul (6-8, 0-2) Tuesday at 9 p.m.
"It's critical now. It's a must-win game," said point guard Truck Bryant. "We need to win the games we're supposed to win and we're supposed to win against DePaul, I believe. We need the win build confidence and get going in the Big East."
The Mountaineers trailed 9-0 early and in their first six possessions missed two shots and committed five turnovers. They were down by 11 in the middle of the first half, but battled back to trail by three at halftime and take a lead in the second half despite impossibly hot shooting by Marquette (10-4, 1-0).
A 3-pointer by Bryant gave the Mountaineers a 57-53 lead. The advantage was gone within a minute, though, and the sides would trade the lead nine more times and be tied twice the rest of the way.
"We did what we had to do to get back in it, but we didn't maintain it," said point guard Joe Mazzulla.
Marquette made 15 of its first 20 shots in the second half and scored on offensivee rebounds on two of the misses, both that came in succession. Jae Crowder was fouled trying to put in a rebound and spun the ball high off the glass and watched it fall through the basket for a 73-68 lead with 3:32 to go.
Kevin Jones made two free throws and Bryant scored on a jumper and a layup to give WVU its final lead, 74-73, with 1:44 remaining.
Marquette's Dwight Buycks shot early and open on the next possession.
"We'll live with that shot every day," Bryant said.
Buycks missed, but center Chris Otule flew in to dunk the rebound for his only basket of the game and a 75-74 lead.
"There was a lot of scrambling and a lot of guys spread out in different places and nobody found him," Jones said. "I don't know how anybody didn't find him because he's the biggest guy on the court, but I blame myself on that one.
"That's my side of the basket and I'm supposed to protect my side and get that rebound. That was a crucial point in the game. We needed to get that rebound. We get that rebound and it's probably a different game."
WVU called a timeout with 1:14 to go and Bryant missed a jumper, but Marquette missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Mountaineers then ran a play they called in the timeout, but Bryant couldn't get his pass to Casey Mitchell at the top of the key and it was stolen by Crowder.
"He cheated up off his man and whoever he was guarding didn't say anything," Mitchell said. "He ran right through the pass and took off with it."
Huggins accepted the blame for the turnover. He said he called the play even though it was one he hasn't used much in games or practices.
"It's my fault for trying to do something we hadn't practiced a bunch," he said. "We have a hard enough time executing things we practice a lot."
Mitchell intentionally fouled Crowder to prevent the layup. Crowder missed one of his two free throws and Jimmy Butler was fouled right away when Marquette regained the possession, but he, too, was 1-for-2.
WVU had no timeouts with 26 seconds to play and Bryant tried to get into the offense, but ended up missing a layup with eight seconds left.
"There was no other option but to drive," he said.
Butler made two free throws to end the game.
"Our execution wasn't as good as it needed to be," Jones said. "It's the situation we were in most of last year. Those were mostly tight games, but our execution was crisp and that's why Da'Sean made a lot of shots. We need to learn from this and we need to be much better down the stretch of games."
Marquette was 16-for-25 in the second half and finished the game 30-for-57. Crowder, a junior college transfer in his first season at Marquette, had a career-high 29 points. He was averaging 11. Crowder added eight rebounds and five assists.
"We made him a star, didn't we?" Huggins said. "He played great. Any time you're 12-for-14, you had a pretty good day."
Darius Johnson-Odom scored 21 points, including the first seven of the game. Butler, the team's leading scorer at 15 points per game, didn't attempt a shot in the first half, but finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. The Golden Eagles had assists on 22 of their baskets.
Bryant scored a career-best 25 points for WVU despite contributing to the poor start with two turnovers.
"I think Truck played - and not because he scored - but after I took him out early, Truck played the way we expect him to play," Huggins said.
Jones added 17 and eight rebounds. Deniz Kilicli and Casey Mitchell both had 14 points. The Mountaineers were 29-for-60 and made all seven of their free-throw attempts. Marquette was 14-for-21 at the foul line.
It was one of a few critical advantages. The Golden Eagles finished ahead 34-24 in rebounding and had a 15-10 edge in second-chance points, both serving as keys to overcome WVU's rally.
The Mountaineers were outrebounded by 10 in last week's home loss to St. John's.
"I don't like being second in anything, so I have some problems with what we did," Huggins said. "We didn't rebound the ball. That's pretty obvious when you get outrebounded by 10. They come down and make an open 3, we come down and miss an open 3, that's going to happen. You're going to miss some. But give us another chance. They missed and they got other chances.
"The frustrating thing was we didn't rebound the ball. It wasn't that they didn't miss. We didn't get the rebounds. Did we play better? Yeah, we played better, but that wasn't good enough. We've still got to play better."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com.