Marquette collects needed victory
They got it.
Darius Johnson-Odom scored nine of his 17 points in overtime Thursday night to lead the Golden Eagles to a 74-67 victory over No. 14 Connecticut, which played without coach Jim Calhoun on the bench.
“This was just another game,” Johnson-Odom said when asked about how big this game was coming in for the Golden Eagles. “I don’t know anything about our hopes for the tournament or whatnot. All we can do is keep playing, finish the season out and see what happens at the end.”
Jimmy Butler added 16 points for the Golden Eagles (17-11, 8-7 Big East), who tied the game at 59 with 5.3 seconds left on a drive by Johnson-Odom.
“We definitely needed a quality road win, a road win period,” Butler said, referring to Marquette’s 0-6 road record against ranked teams coming in. “We needed a game when we were up and we could finish out a game and win it. We kept playing Marquette basketball and toughed it up and won it.”
Kemba Walker led the Huskies (20-7, 8-7) with 27 points, but the junior guard missed four shots and committed one turnover in the extra period. Walker also committed two turnovers in the final 1:20 of regulation, the second with 10 seconds left that led to Johnson-Odom’s tying basket.
“We just wanted to get something up, get to the basket,” Walker said of the second turnover. “They were playing me tough and I turned it over. I was a little careless with the ball and they were able to take those turnovers and make them into baskets.”
It was the Huskies’ first game since the NCAA revealed its sanctions against the program over recruiting violations. Among the penalties was a suspension of Calhoun for next season’s first three Big East games. Calhoun was cited for failing to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program.
Calhoun left the team Wednesday to be with his family in New Hampshire following the death of his sister-in-law on Monday.
This was the 15th game that associate head coach George Blaney replaced Calhoun on the bench and Connecticut’s record in those games dropped to 7-8.
“Coach talked to them before he left yesterday and we had a good practice and a good shootaround today,” Blaney said. “I talked to him, too, before the game and I’ll talk to him again now.”
The loss was the third in five games for the Huskies, who beat Marquette 76-68 in their earlier meeting this season.
“Seventeen turnovers is the answer,” Blaney said of the loss that dropped the Huskies to 8-2 at the XL Center with the other loss to Syracuse.
Nine of Marquette’s 11 losses have been to ranked teams, and this looked to be No. 10 when the Huskies opened the second half with a 26-7 run to wipe out an 11-point halftime deficit.
The Golden Eagles responded with an 8-2 run that brought them to 51-49 with 6:55 to play.