No such thing as a guarantee

Darius Johnson-Odom drives to the basket against USF Saturday.

Look back at some of the statistics from Marquette’s game against South Florida Saturday.

South Florida held the advantage in rebounding (42-30), offensive rebounding (14-4), second-chance points (12-0) and points in the paint (32-22). Marquette hit only 65 percent of its free throws, and shot only 43.1 percent from the field. Senior Lazar Hayward finished the first half 1-for-6 from the field. Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette’s third leading scorer with 12.8 points per game prior to Saturday, finished with just three points on 1-for-5 shooting, including 1-for-4 from 3-points range.

Doesn’t sound like the line of a winning team. Yet the Golden Eagles defeated the Bulls 63-52.

“Defensively we had some breakdowns here and there,” South Florida coach Stan Heath said. “But for the most part, I would have taken that performance against a really good 3-point shooting team.”

There was, however, one big reason Marquette came out victorious: Bulls junior guard Dominique Jones.

Yes, the same Dominique Jones that put up 140 points, 30 rebounds and 18 assists in four straight wins before the Bulls fell to Notre Dame, 65-62. This is also the Dominique Jones of recent Facebook fame, who, following the loss to Notre Dame, guaranteed four straight wins for the Bulls, starting with the game against Marquette. Jones posted this on his Facebook wall: “To all the USF fans who continue to ask and comment about the (Notre Dame) game — we played in 1 of the hardest places to win — I didn’t play well but I’m good for a bad game every 10 — but now we are in full effect — and I guarantee 4 more Big East wins in a row — copyright this quote.”

For the Golden Eagles’ part, they paid little attention to the comment.

“Dominique made his comments, so I’m sure he tried to get his guys going and get them revved up,” Hayward said. “So we were ready for a big game.”

In the Bulls loss to Notre Dame, Jones finished with just 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting, giving Marquette a blueprint on how to handle the 6-foot-4, 205-pound South Florida star.

“It’s hard because he can initiate offense in transition, he can initiate offense in the half court, he can post, he’s really good, obviously, on the wing,” coach Buzz Williams said.

Williams’ recipe for stopping Jones included a whole lot of Johnson-Odom, a pinch of Dwight Buycks and a dash of David Cubillan, while also mixing in some non-man-to-man looks. It worked. While Jones finished with a team-high 16 points, he needed 21 shots and 39 minutes to get there. He also dished out just one assist and committed five of his team’s 12 turnovers.

Johnson-Odom in particular did a phenomenal defensive job on Jones, almost entirely at the expense of his offensive game.

“I thought DJO was the player of the game,” Williams said. “He expended about 98 percent of his energy on that end of the floor, and that’s what gave us our best chance for success.”

Jones’ complete inability to find a rhythm with Johnson-Odom blanketing him the whole night led to Marquette’s best game in terms of field goal percentage defense (35.5 percent) so far in conference play. And in the end, that was the only statistic that mattered.

Whether applicable to Facebook statuses or shooting woes, Heath’s final comment held true.

“Dominique is one of those guys that — he’s like a furnace. He can heat up your house or he can burn it down. And so it’s important that I allow him to heat it up, but I’ve got to be careful not to let him burn it down.”