Judging by the final score and overall play in Marquette’s 86-50 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tuesday night, one would think there would be a sense of excitement in a 7-2 start to the season.
Not so much.
On a night when a moment of silence was held before the start of the game for former Marquette head coach and athletic director Hank Raymonds, who died of cancer Monday, senior forward Joe Fulce went down with what looked to be a serious knee injury.
“He’s got a shot knee,” coach Buzz Williams said. “It’s been shot. I would say it’s completely shot. That’s all I know.”
The athletic department announced late Wednesday night Fulce had suffered a severe bone contusion in his left knee and would be doubtful for Saturday’s game.
“For me, it’s losing one of my guys, one of the guys who helps me every day,” junior forward Jae Crowder said. “It hurts a lot and definitely marred the victory.”
Freshman guard Reggie Smith said it was difficult to celebrate the victory after seeing Fulce go down.
“We weren’t really excited about the win,” Smith said. “We were more concerned about Joe. After our huddle, we said ‘Joe’ on three. He’s a really important part of our team. If he can’t play, of course we have to move on, but it’s a big loss for us.”
Freshman guard Vander Blue was impressive, scoring a career-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and was able to get into the lane with ease against a bigger Islander team.
“He’s just so active,” Williams said. “His activity on both ends of the floor leads to good things, and I think he’s beginning to have more comfort and using his aggressiveness within how we want to play on both ends.”
Blue also finished with five rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in 29 minutes.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt and Marquette dominated just about every statistical category to set up a large showdown with Wisconsin-Madison on Saturday afternoon.
Marquette scored 30 points off of 22 Islander turnovers, enjoyed a 52-18 advantage in points in the paint, a 28-7 advantage on fast break points and a 34-14 margin in bench scoring.
Smith was once again a ball-hawk and had a career-high five steals to go along with five assists and received a big compliment from Williams after the game.
“He’s just so smart,” Williams said. “I think as time goes on, he’s going to be one of the smartest players to ever put on a Marquette uniform.”
Freshman forward Davante Gardner returned to action after missing two games with a shoulder injury, but Williams wasn’t exactly complimentary of the big man’s play.
“I thought he was really bad,” Williams said. “He picked up two fouls in the first half, reaching in on a ball screen. I didn’t think he was very good. I was glad he got to play, because he’s going to have to play, especially if Joe’s out.”
Gardner was one of five Marquette players who finished in double digits in points, scoring 10 in just 15 minutes.
Senior forward Jimmy Butler and Crowder each added 15, while junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom dropped in 12 points as the Golden Eagles shot 55 percent for the game.