‘Senior’ Cadougan controls the tempo in win over West Virginia

For one night in New York City, Junior Cadougan played more like “Senior” Cadougan.

Marquette’s sophomore point guard led the Golden Eagles with 15 points and five assists in their 67-61 win over West Virginia in the second round of the Big East Tournament.

Cadougan was all over the court during his 26 minutes, taking aggressive drives to the basket, finding open teammates with ease, breaking West Virginia’s press and calmly sinking free throws down the stretch to give Marquette the win.

“That’s the Junior we see in practice every day,” freshman guard Vander Blue said. “I was sitting with him on the bench and told him, ‘when you get back in there, just make the best of it.’ It’s not about scoring or anything like that for him, it’s about controlling the game and coming with energy.”

Wednesday night, Cadougan did all those things.

With Marquette trailing by nine in the second half 44-35, West Virginia looked ready to run away with the game. It was about then that Cadougan found his spurt of energy and played the best basketball of his two-year Marquette career.

At the 15:34 mark, Cadougan made two free throws, then followed it up with a three-point play on a driving layup, and finished it off with another drive to the hoop, culminating in two more points.

Seven points in 1:26. Yes, that Junior Cadougan.

It was the perfect remedy for a struggling Marquette offense, and the 7-0 run brought Marquette within two points of the Mountaineers and set the tone for the final stretch.

Cadougan was also just as important in breaking West Virginia’s full-court 1-3-1 press in the second half. Coach Buzz Williams said Cadougan ran down the court so quickly that, at times, the Mountaineers didn’t even have time to get into its press.

“I think Junior did a great job controlling the game tonight,” junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom said. “He controlled the tempo all night. If he plays like that he can play point guard for any team in the league. We need him to come out and play like that every night.”

Cadougan was vital in getting the Golden Eagles back in the game and keeping them there, but he also helped seal the victory over the Mountaineers.

With the score tied at 55, he found Johnson-Odom in the corner for one of his five assists on the night. The made 3-pointer gave Marquette a lead it never gave back.

“I think Junior changes the game because he finds guys and he’s good in transition,” Johnson-Odom said. “It’s hard to stop a 205-pound kid coming to the basket, but he also does a good job getting to the basket and finding people.”

Two minutes later Cadougan answered a John Flowers layup with one of his own to give Marquette a six-point advantage with just over a minute to play.

Cadougan then ended his memorable night by hitting two free throws on a one-and-one situation to extend Marquette’s lead to two possessions with 25 seconds left.

Aside from his scoring barrage last night, Cadougan’s recent emergence as a “drive-and-dish” point guard has helped give Marquette shooters open looks, something Williams said is vital to his team’s success.

It has given us more flexibility within our other perimeter spots, which makes us more potent,” Williams said. “It makes us better. Junior’s growth has really changed the complexion of our team.”