NEW YORK – Louisville’s blitz came immediately Thursday against Marquette, their 20-6 lead in the opening six minutes of the Big East tournament’s quarterfinal round not unlike the 18-2 lead the Cardinals had against the Golden Eagles in their first meeting Jan. 16.
But that game was in Milwaukee, a place where the Golden Eagles typically vanquished opponents in the second half. Thursday was in Madison Square Garden.
“We were playing from behind from the very beginning,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said after the Cardinals eliminated the Golden Eagles 84-71. “We were like a karaoke bar where you keep passing the mike.”
It slipped more times than ever for the No. 9 Golden Eagles (25-7) in a season-worst 26 turnovers that led to 23 points for the Cardinals (24-9), who advance to the semifinals Friday against Notre Dame.
“We knew their transition was a key, but we didn’t do a good job of getting to spots,” senior Darius Johnson-Odom said. “They did a good job of forcing us into turnovers. We had an idea they would press us. I didn’t think it would be at a high level like that.”
Johnson-Odom, one of two Golden Eagles on the all-Big East first team, led all scorers with 23 points, but he had six turnovers (to three assists) as part of the uncharacteristic game that made them a one-and-done in the tournament, despite having the No. 2 seed.
Marquette’s Jae Crowder, the conference player of the year, had 10 points and 12 rebounds, but only four points and five boards came in the second half after he was called for his fourth foul with 12:39 left.