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Marquette Men’s Basketball: Hot second half shooting downs Dolphins

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Freshman guard Todd Mayo gained a career high of 14 points against the Jacksonville Dolphins. Photo by Michael Nelson

No. 16/16 Marquette (6-0) brushed off a sloppy first half to finish the month of November undefeated for the first time in coach Buzz Williams’ four-year tenure with an 88-56 win over Jacksonville Monday night.

A 32-9 run gave the Golden Eagles a 62-37 lead with 12:16 left to put the game on ice.

Williams attributed some of the sloppiness to the fact that the team hadn’t played since a 59-57 win on Nov. 21 over Norfolk State in the championship of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

“We were a lot better (in the second half),” Williams said. “I didn’t think we were quite as rusty as I thought we would be, but I didn’t think we were as sharp as we needed to be.”

Senior forward Jae Crowder led the Golden Eagles with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting, with 23 of those points coming in the second half. The four 3-pointers Crowder made were a career high.

Crowder didn’t feel like the team was rusty coming into the game, only saying that the team needed to tighten up a few things on both ends of the floor.

“We knew coming into the game that they (the Jacksonville Dolphins) would hit a lot of threes,” Crowder said. “We knew they were capable of hitting threes. We just felt like defensively we needed to make them ‘drivers.’”

Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom chipped in 19 points, and sophomore guard Vander Blue continued his impressive start to the season with nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 24 minutes of play.

Blue’s seven assists were a career high and his nine rebounds and four steals tied a career high.

Freshman guard Todd Mayo notched a career-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Through six games, Mayo is the team’s fourth leading scorer at 8.8 points per game, despite averaging just 16.3 minutes per game.

Williams wants observers to be impressed with Mayo’s overall game, however, not just his offensive prowess.

“He is a lot better defender than you probably realize, but he has been so good offensively that you don’t necessarily pay attention to what he has been doing for us defensively,” Williams said.

While Mayo has been impressive early in his career, he knows there’s room for improvement.

“I think I’m doing OK, but I know I can do better,” Mayo said. “The team can do better and we just need to work a little harder and we’ll figure it out when it’s time for Big East play.”

For the game, Marquette shot 58.5 percent from the field, including 65.5 percent in the second half. During Williams’ tenure, the Golden Eagles are 38-3 when shooting over 50 percent, including 5-0 this season.

Through six games the Golden Eagles average 88 points per game, tied for fifth in the nation with North Carolina. Marquette also ranks sixth in field goal percentage (53.1 percent) and fourth in the country in assists per game (20.5), after picking up 22 more on Monday.

Senior forward Delwan Graham led the Dolphins in scoring, finishing with 13 points. Jacksonville fell to 2-4 with the loss.

While the margin is victory was substantial, not everything went right for the Golden Eagles, who allowed Jacksonville to make nine 3-pointers on 26 attempts (34.6 percent). Marquette’s next two opponents, Wisconsin and Washington, rank No. 2 and No. 4 in the country, respectively, in three-point field goal percentage.

“In the first half, 60 percent of their points came from threes and that’s not a good combination,” Williams said. “I thought our energy and sharpness were much better in the second half.”

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