MILWAUKEE— For the first time all season, it felt like major conference college basketball at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The only problem for the Marquette Golden Eagles was that they were not the ones playing it.
A great atmosphere may have been in the building from the off, but Marquette seemed to forget to show up. They began the game with a number of sloppy possessions which culminated in turnovers and bad shots; as a result, they found themselves down 10-2 to the Iowa Hawkeyes before all the fans had found their seats. The Golden Eagles did not recover from their early malaise, and quickly found themselves down 18-6 with center Luke Fischer on the bench after picking up two early fouls when head coach Steve Wojciechowski called a timeout at the 13:53 mark in the half, attempting to stem the tide.
“Tonight was unacceptable. I think we got exposed in every facet of the game. That’s not the way a Marquette team should play,” said Wojciechowski.
As the Iowa lead began to spiral out of control, highly touted recruit Henry Ellenson began stepping further out towards the perimeter in an effort to get more of the ball. The harder he tried to score, the more difficult it became. The Golden Eagles forced shot after shot, kept turning the ball over and allowed the Hawkeyes easy fast break points. The game felt more or less over when Iowa took a 28-8 lead before the eight-minute mark.
It was a sign of the desperation Marquette faced that the first three-pointer they made all night-the 12th one they attempted-came just before the seven minute mark in the first half when Duane Wilson pulled up from 25 feet out and hit to cut the deficit to 31-13.
As the first half drew to a close, the game more closely resembled one played in a YMCA gym than one played in the arena of an NBA team. When Dom Uhl soared through the Marquette defense to slam home an alley-oop, it was clear both teams knew the game was all but over. Iowa proceeded to put the majority of their bench in before the half came to a close with the score Iowa 48, Marquette 21. The Golden Eagles were 2-19 shooting from beyond the arc with 12 turnovers.
“I think that our offense has affected our defense. We’ve turned it over too much and we’ve let missed shots affect our effort on the defensive end. You can’t do that,” said Wojciechowski.
In spite of the abysmal first half performance, Marquette responded well after the break. They began the second half on a quick 6-0 run which prompted Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery to call a timeout. However, Marquette was only able cut the gap to 19 before the Iowa of the first half reemerged. Within moments, the Hawkeyes led 57-30. The gap would never again be less than 25 as the final 12 minutes were largely played out by reserve players before Iowa ran out 89-61 winners.
When asked what positives the Golden Eagles could take from the game, Wojciechowski remarked “None. Not one positive thing.”
After a moment, he went on to issue an apology directly to the fan base for the performance, saying “The fans were phenomenal tonight, and we appreciate their support, and we have to play better. I know our fan base is hungry, and I want our team to be as hungry as our fans are. I hope they stick with us, because we’ll play hungrier.”
The Iowa Hawkeyes were led by Peter Jok, who had 20 points and three rebounds and Jarrod Uthoff, who tacked on 15 points and four rebounds. Anthony Clemmons, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury and Uhl also scored in double figures. Meanwhile, the Marquette Golden Eagles were led by Haanif Cheatham with 12 points, Jajuan Johnson with 11 points and Wilson with 11 points.
The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) will next be in action on Thursday, November 26th against the Dayton Flyers in the Advocare Invitational. Meanwhile, the Marquette Golden Eagles (1-2) will play next in the Legends Classic against the LSU Tigers on Monday, November 23rd.