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Milwaukee natives highlight first day of Bradley Center action

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Milwaukee natives highlight first day of Bradley Center action

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The Marquette Golden Eagles might be down in Greenville, South Carolina, for their tournament action, but that doesn’t mean Milwaukee was underrepresented at the BMO Harris Bradley Center for Thursday’s first round of tournament games.

A trio of Milwaukee natives, Darrell Bowie, Donavan Jackson and former Marquette guard Deonte Burton, scored a combined 47 of Iowa State’s 84 points as the Cyclones staved off the upset hungry Nevada Wolfpack during the fourth and final game of a 12-hour March Madness marathon.

“That’s how you put on for your city,” Bowie said after the game. “That’s what you call a home-court advantage.”

Though the raucous, red-draped Iowa State faithful fans made the arena feel no different from Hilton Coliseum, home-court advantage meant something completely different for Burton.

In an interview with the Journal Sentinel’s Gary D’Amato, Burton, as he sat in front of his old Marquette locker, said he felt “awkward, happy, anxious and nervous” returning to the Bradley Center for the first time since he transferred from Marquette in 2014. He said he wanted to show Milwaukee crowds how much he’d grown, but his goal wasn’t to have a statement game. He wanted the Cyclones to notch a couple victories before a possible matchup with Big 12 regular season champion Kansas in the Sweet 16.

However, when he rose up and slammed down a thunderous left-handed hammer that shook the stadium to its core, there had to be at least a small desire to make a statement in the back of his mind.

It was a statement and reunion he was hoping to make for over a year. Last season, when ISU landed in Chicago, he told the Journal Sentinel he hoped they would play in Milwaukee in 2017. Thanks to his 14 points and six rebounds per game, as well as 18 points a game in the Big 12 Conference tournament that culminated in a title, he was able to make that dream come true.

As for the other three games, there weren’t as many upsets as professional and casual bracketologists had hoped.

In the first game of the day, the Butler Bulldogs, Marquette’s Big East foe, easily dispatched the outmatched Winthrop Eagles. Butler’s star was surprisingly not matchup nightmare Andrew Chrabacz, but senior guard Avery Woodson. He answered the bell by knocking down six of his ten 3-point attempts, five of which came in the first half. The insanity of his play made PA man Mike Jakabowksi chuckle as the fifth one rattled home.

In game two, Middle Tennessee State similarly outmatched the young, athletic Minnesota Golden Gophers in a battle of Reggie’s. The Blue Raiders star, Reggie Upshaw, had 19 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes. Minnesota’s Reggie Lynch was in early foul trouble and only mustered eight points in an almost invisible 24 minutes.

After a break, Purdue battled Vermont in the first close game of the day. Vermont’s duo of guards, Trey Bell-Haynes and Anthony Lamb, made it tough on the Boilermakers, but Purdue’s size, hot shooting and versatility proved too much for the talented Catamounts, who came in the winners of 21 straight.

Best basketball moment of the day

Around the nine-minute mark of the ISU-Nevada game, Nevada’s star player and NBA prospect, Cameron Oliver, who’d already emphatically blocked a few ISU layup attempts, coupled his physical smack of well-intentioned Darrell Bowie basketball with an added verbal epitaph. Moments later, a scuffle in the paint garnered double technicals for the duo, but Bowie had one more message to send. After a fade-away jumper right in Oliver’s eye, Bowie raised his right hand and gave a “call me” signal. A gesture, I can only assume, that was aimed at a significant other in Oliver’s life.

Quote of the Day

At the beginning of the Purdue-Vermont game, the stadium was cavernously empty, to the point where everyone could hear the dialogue on the court. Purdue’s coach Matt Painter, who has racked up almost 300 career victories in West Lafayette, had a few simple words for his players after a rough few possessions.

“C’mon, you gotta try harder,” he said. Sometimes, in the tournament, even the best coaches have no idea what to say.

Most amazing players

Winthrop’s Keon Johnson is 5-foot-7. Purdue’s Isaac Haas is 7-foot-2. They didn’t get to play each other, but to witness both extremes on the same day was a real treat.

Johnson averages 22 points per game and was easily the toughest player on the court. He was embarrassingly blocked a few times to the point of Butler’s Kamar Baldwin actually catching a layup attempt, but he kept on scoring and willing his Eagles back into contention.

Haas towered over everyone on the Catmounts, and in the second half, Purdue finally figured that out. He took the ball in the paint, backed down his man and easily layed it in. Basketball and height mix well.

Next on the Schedule

On Saturday, Butler takes on Middle Tennessee State at 6:10 for a chance to move to the Sweet 16. If they win, MTSU will be the first 12 seed to make the sweet 16 since Oregon in 2013 and the first non-power five 12 seed since Richmond in 2011.

The night cap is Iowa State versus Purdue at 8:40. Purdue has been hungry for this matchp for a full year. Last year, this was supposed to be the 5-4 game in Chicago, but Purdue lost to Arkansas Little-Rock and gave ISU an easy path to the Sweet 16.

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