Baseline: Havoc defense helps Marquette stun No. 10 Illinois

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Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Marquette student section cheers during men’s basketball’s 67-66 upset win over No. 10 Illinois Nov. 15 at Fiserv Forum.

A balanced approach on offense and head coach Shaka Smart’s havoc defense helped the Marquette men’s basketball team to its first signature win of the season defeating No. 10 Illinois 67-66.

Despite a few cold stretches throughout the game, the Golden Eagles found their rhythm near the end of the second half. Marquette benefitted from the hostile environment created by a crowd of 14,631 at Fiserv Forum and its havoc press defense.

Here’s a breakdown of the Golden Eagles win:

Game MVP: Tyler Kolek 

Down one with 19 seconds left on the game clock, redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek caused a steal, drove through the lane to make what would be the game winning layup, even though he would miss the free throw.

“We’re down one, so obviously we’re going to have to get a quick trap, maybe foul. He (Smart) was calling Justin up to come trap because he’s guy was kind of the further one away but I saw the guy’s head was turned so I just ran out, tried to make a play,” Kolek said.

Marquette men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart said he proud of Kolek’s “grittiness” performance on the night.

“He’s such a gritty, tough kid,” Smart said. “He actually had some of his best defensive possessions down the stretch that I’ve ever seen him have.”

During a span of 1 minute and six seconds in the second half, Kolek hit back-to-back 3-pointers to bring the Golden Eagles within one, 40-39.

“For him to make those back to back threes, we needed those because we were struggling shooting the ball,” Smart said.

Key Stats: 

  • Marquette scored 28 points off of Illinois’s 26 caused turnovers.
  • Over the final 5:21 of the second half, Marquette finished the game on a 10-1 run.
  • Marquette was 18-for-31 from the charity stripe on the night, with 12 coming in the second half alone, while Illinois finished 7-for-11.

Notes:

  • Graduate student guard Darryl Morsell finished with 21 points, going 7-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, five rebounds, one assist and one steal.
  • Redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis finished with 17 points, four rebounds and one steal.
  • The victory marks the Golden Eagles’ 128th all-time victory over an Associated Press Top-25 team and the 49th over a top-10 team at the time of the meeting.

Quote of the Day: 

Smart said the word of the week heading into tonight’s game was audacity.

“Not a lot of people outside of that locker room gave us much of a chance to win this game, playing against a top 10 team” Smart said. “But the guys believed and stayed together.”

Next Game: 

Marquette (3-0) will now head on the road for the first time this season to face Ole Miss Thursday at 6 p.m. CST.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.