MBB : FOURTH KIND: SU falls at Marquette for 1st 4-game losing skid in 5 seasons

first_imgMILWAUKEE — All Syracuse could do was watch Jimmy Butler fire away and hope for the best. Hands in his face or not, Marquette’s senior forward wasn’t missing when it counted the most.With the shot clock winding down and the score tied late, Butler drilled a huge 3-pointer from right in front of the Marquette bench. The shot was part one of two late-game dagger 3-pointers, and the Bradley Center crowd erupted.‘The first one was big,’ Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. ‘We ran the play with six seconds left (on the shot clock), and you can’t get a better look. You just hope it goes in.’Each time Syracuse came knocking on the door Saturday, Marquette answered the call. Though the Orange kept fighting back, it couldn’t fight back from the Golden Eagles’ pair of clutch 3-pointers.After Butler’s 3 with fewer than two minutes remaining, the Marquette’s sparkplug Darius Johnson-Odom followed with one of his own on the ensuing possession, giving Marquette (14-8, 5-4 Big East) a six-point advantage. And four clutch free throws sealed Marquette’s 76-70 victory over the Orange (18-4, 5-4) in front of 19,032 inside the Bradley Center on Saturday. In the closing seconds, after such an intense effort forging a comeback, reality sank in that SU’s losing streak would continue.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt’s a streak that now stands at four games after 18 consecutive wins. It comes after the second-best opening to a season in program history. Four straight losses to four Big East opponents.‘The game came down to Butler making a forced 3 on the right-hand side,’ Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘You’ve got to give him a lot of credit — it was the toughest shot of the game. And then he made a tough shot with the (shot) clock going out in the corner. That’s just the way it is. He made two great plays, and that was the ball game.’Despite being down the entire game, Syracuse battled back time and time again. Down 11 at the half, SU inched closer and evened the score down the stretch. Each time, SU was unable to hold onto any kind of advantage as Marquette’s starters drained 6-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc.That was no surprise. Coming into the game, Marquette’s four leading scorers were shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. What was surprising, though, was the occasional wide-open looks the Golden Eagles were consistently finding. That and how easily Marquette was able to get to the line when the outside shot wasn’t open.‘Once again, we got off to a slow start and spent the entire game trying to come back,’ SU guard Brandon Triche said. ‘Second half, we played like we did when we were winning. But we had to dig ourselves out.’Marquette started the game on a 10-3 run and went into halftime with an 11-point lead. But in spite of the slow start, Syracuse refused to go away. After some light criticism following a 22-point blowout loss to Seton Hall on Tuesday, starters Triche, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph and Rick Jackson led the way for the Orange. Joseph and Jardine got into a shooting rhythm, and Jackson took what the defense gave him when he wasn’t being double-teamed.At times in the second half, Syracuse appeared to be able to get whatever it wanted offensively. Syracuse shot an astounding 57 percent from the field (28-of-49), prompting Boeheim to say the Orange played as well offensively as it had all season.‘The first half, we weren’t defending,’ Boeheim said. ‘The passes were getting by us too much. … In the second half, we put both together.’Still, the Orange couldn’t make a stop consistently, sometimes allowing Marquette to fire away uncontested from the outside. Yet after trailing most of the game, SU eventually tied the game at 66-66.But Butler struck the deathblow. The shot Boeheim said was the toughest of the game sent his Orange to its fourth consecutive defeat.Said Butler: ‘I just rose up and knocked it down.’aljohn@syr.edu Comments Published on January 28, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more