The horror, the horror…

The game was over before it even started.

Roughly 30 minutes before tip-off at Freedom Hall, the Marquette coaching staff decided to sit senior guard Travis Diener so he could rest the left ankle he sprained Saturday against Charlotte.

Without its top scorer and fiery team leader, Marquette was in for a long night against No. 12 Louisville.

The Cardinals' pressing defense and precision from behind the arc only compounded problems. Louisville drained a season-high 17 three-pointers, including six by guard Larry O'Bannon, on its way to a 99-52 victory.

The loss, which was the most-lopsided in school history, dropped the Golden Eagles to 14-5 (2-4). Before the 47-point drubbing, Marquette's worst loss was a 57-12 defeat at the hands of Creighton in 1940.

"He means a lot to our club and we learned how much tonight," Marquette head coach Tom Crean told the Associated Pess.

Without Diener to bring the ball up the court or dish it out to his teammates — he leads Conference USA with an average of 6.7 assists per game — the game plan called for sophomore Dameon Mason to take over ball handling responsibilities, but that idea didn't work out.

He picked up two quick fouls and played only 14 minutes in the first half. Seven minutes into the second half Mason, Marquette's second leading scorer, picked up his fifth foul on an offensive charge and took a seat for the night with six points, three assists and five turnovers in 19 minutes.

Despite the foul trouble and depleted lineup, Marquette managed to stay within striking distance during the first half and entered the break down by only 13 points thanks to three treys by Todd Townsend over the final six minutes of the half.

Townsend was no match for O'Bannon though. The senior was perfect on all five attempts from three-point land in the first half and finished with a collegiate high 30 points — 16 above his average.

"Larry had a special night," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino told the AP. "He exemplifies everything we're trying to build with our program."

Francisco Garcia, the preseason C-USA Player of the Year, also had a solid game for the Cardinals, finishing with 14 points, five assists, three blocks and four steals.

The Golden Eagles didn't do themselves any favors, either. They committed 22 turnovers against the pressing Cardinals, and Louisville converted them into 36 points.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Jan. 27 2005.