Still fighting: Marquette plans to rise above Louisville loss

Dwight Buycks in a game last season versus DePaul. Photo courtesy of Marquette Images.

After blowing an 18-point lead in a 71-70 loss at No. 17/18  Louisville Saturday morning, Marquette (12-6, 3-2 Big East) gets its shot at redemption tonight against DePaul (6-11, 0-5 Big East).

Before the game against Louisville, coach Buzz Williams said his team always has an edge about it that keeps it pushing for its best every day.

“When you’re in a fight, and it’s a really long fight, you have to prepare every day as if it’s going to be a fight,” Williams said.  “There’s got to be an edge to that fight every day.  I think that they’re starting to figure that out.”

Junior forward Jae Crowder emphasized the need to remain even keeled.

“When you lose one or if you win one, you got to dust it off and get to the next one,” Crowder said.  “That’s what our team has been doing, and I’m proud to be with a group of guys that when you lose, the next day of practice is just like you had won.  You’re not really up and down as a unit, but we’re still fighting every day.”

Whether Marquette coaches and players stay true to what they’ve said about dealing with tough losses, DePaul may just be the antidote they need if the loss to Louisville was more than they could bear.

The Blue Demons have had only one Big East game decided by less than nine points and only average 70.6 points per contest, which is 13th best in the Big East.  Marquette has the third best scoring offense in the Big East at 80.1 points per game.

In its only Big East loss decided by nine points or less, 67-65 against West Virginia, DePaul had three players score in double digits. In other Big East losses, DePaul had only two players in double figures. Marquette will need to make sure DePaul’s offensive damage is only done by one or two players.

The Blue Demons also shouldn’t pose the three-point shooting threat that Louisville did.  For the season, the Cardinals shoot 37.8 percent from the three-point line for the third-best percentage in the conference, while the Blue Demons are dead last at 27.7 percent.

The Golden Eagles are statistically the worst team in the Big East at defending three-point field goals at 37.3 percent for the season.  In Big East games, Marquette opponents are connecting on three-point field goals at a 41.3 percent clip, the second-worst mark in the conference.

Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom said there’s only so much that the team can do to stop opponents beyond the arc.

“If you’re hitting shots, you’re just hitting shots,” Johnson-Odom said.  “We can only close out with high hands, and if they make shots, then they make shots.”

The DePaul game will finish up the first third of Marquette’s Big East schedule, and the really good teams usually know what their identity is at that point in the season.  Senior guard Dwight Buycks said he’s not sure what Marquette’s identity will become, but has a rough idea.

“I think it’ll just be tough guys, playing hard and everybody on the same page,” Buycks said.

Look for Marquette to show its toughness and rebound against DePaul tonight.