The Marquette men’s basketball team seemed to have recaptured its nonconference form on Saturday against Creighton.
Down by as many as 17 in the second half, the Golden Eagles were moments away from a comeback victory in overtime. It would have been Marquette’s first conference victory. But, inexplicably, Shaka Smart decided not to foul up 3 with 3.3 seconds remaining. An Alex O’Connell 3-pointer forced another overtime and Creighton went on to win 75-69 in double overtime. Marquette is now 0-3 in Big East play.
The Golden Eagles snagged solid nonconference wins over Illinois, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Kansas State, with multiple wins being double-digit comebacks. What stings about the loss to Creighton was Marquette badly needed a win. It is a stark difference being 9-5, 1-2 Big East and being 8-6, 0-3 Big East.
Also, a young team like Marquette needs to have the coach put them in position to win down the stretch. After the loss, Smart said he was worried about fouling in the act of shooting. However, right when Alex O’Connell put the ball on the floor it was a no-brainer foul situation. The win would have been a big weight lifted off of a young team to win their first conference game.
Marquette will look to push this loss to the backburner and bounce back vs. Providence on Tuesday. A solid performance in the nonconference slate, Marquette had a strong resume. But in Big East play Marquette has given much of that back at 0-3. The bright side is the Golden Eagles don’t have a bad losses on paper, but now they are adding up at six losses.
Marquette has had trouble finding its footing offensively. But the Golden Eagles have just played extremely hard for all 40 minutes and that grit and determination was massive in Marquette’s nonconference wins. That is a big coup for Shaka, how hard he gets his team to play. They did it again on Saturday, but let Creighton off the hook. MU will need to win these games going forward if it plans to hear its name called on Selection Sunday.
While the loss to Creighton was in frustrating fashion, if Marquette can bounce back with a home win over Providence, the Golden Eagles should gain their footing going forward.
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