Marquette Men’s Basketball: Contributions come from unusual suspects
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Junior guard Junior Cadougan was benched for violating team rules.
Senior forward Jae Crowder played one of the worst games of his Marquette career — two points, two assists, three rebounds, four fouls.
Redshirt sophomore forward Jamil Wilson suffered an injured wrist and was temporarily unavailable.
Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom committed his second foul with 3:56 left in the first half, forcing himself to the bench for the remainder of the period.
And despite all the personnel struggles, Marquette (7-0) still left the Kohl Center victorious Saturday, on the back of contributions from unexpected sources.
“We just got good players. If one goes down we’ve got somebody else. We just got people that can step in,” freshman guard Todd Mayo said. “Even though we were missing Junior (Cadougan), it felt normal.”
Freshman guard Derrick Wilson earned his first collegiate start with Cadougan out. He didn’t score a point or assist on a basket in a career-high 20 minutes, but his contributions were felt in other ways — like helping force preseason All-American senior guard Jordan Taylor into a career-high five turnovers.
“Derrick knows his role: play defense. And he does a great job doing that,” Johnson-Odom said. “He knows we don’t need him to score or do anything that he can’t do. And when he plays (defense) like that, it’s going to be hard for a lot of guards to run what they want to run.”
Marquette’s first possession of the game was Derrick Wilson’s first run with the starters. Making the transition to starter even more dificult, Marquette had added to its playbook in preparation for the battle with Wisconsin.
“I knew those (new sets we added). I knew everything from playing with the second team on dummy offense, so I came out there to do the same things I do with the second team,” Derrick Wilson said.
But just in case Wilson had any questions, Cadougan was there to support and teach him.
“When I came out, (Cadougan) told me what to do, things I needed to do, giving me little tips to get the ball to the scorers like Todd (Mayo), DJ (Johnson-Odom), and (Vander Blue),” Derrick Wilson said.
But Derrick Wilson wasn’t the only freshman who impacted the game. Mayo was the game’s second leading scorer, after Johnson-Odom, with 14 points.
When Wisconsin brought the game to within one point, 41-40 with 10:45 left, it was Mayo who scored the bucket to end Wisconsin’s 11-0 run.
Then, when Wisconsin crept back to make it 51-48 after a 6-0 run, it was Mayo who provided the run-stopping bucket.
“Mayo is an incredible scorer,” Johnson-Odom said. “He just plays with a chip on his shoulder like everybody else. He made some great shots at a great time for us.”
“By him doing that, it really opened up the game for everybody else,” Wilson said. “I think he’s one of the best scorers on the team. He could be one of the best scorers in the Big East.”
But Mayo didn’t pat himself on the back for his contributions.
“I did OK. I am still working on it and trying to do better,” Mayo said. “I think I can get better. Just defensively, making shots, getting to the rim, everything people think I did well at tonight I think I can get better at as a player.”
The contributions didn’t come just from the collaboration of Marquette’s starting five. A whole new unit made one of the bigger contributions to the game.
With 8:56 left in regulation, Marquette’s five on the floor were Mayo, Derrick Wilson, freshman forward Juan Anderson, redshirt junior center Chris Otule and sophomore forward Jamail Jones — a group that has never practiced together, according to Wilson. That unit sparked a 6-0 run that opened up a 47-41 lead.
“I think that really helped us today. I think that was one of the keys to winning because the basketball game is a game of runs and that run right there really helped us out in the long run,” Derrick Wilson said.