MILWAUKEE, Wi. – Just one year ago IUPUI took Marquette to overtime before losing 75-71. That team went on to the NCAA Tournament in March. This year’s IUPUI team is supposed to better, but they didn’t show it. After leading briefly early in the first half, Marquette took complete control and blew the Jaguars out of the water. They led by 20 points at the half and won 104-79.
Darell Combs and Ron Patterson both scored 15 points for IUPUI although neither shot effectively. Combined the pair shot 9-for-25 (36 percent). Matt O’Leary hit double-figures for the fourth game in-a-row with 12 points and added nine rebounds and five assists, both team highs. D.J. McCall had his first double-figure scoring game of the season with 10 points and also grabbed six rebounds.
Haanif Cheatham scored 22 points on only 11 shots to lead Marquette. He wasn’t the only one to have an efficient night; Marquette shot over 57 percent as a team. Cheatham, Luke Fischer, Katin Reinhardt, Jajuan Johnson and Duane Wilson all scored in double-figures and only Reinhardt shot less than 70 percent from the floor.
IUPUI started hot and took a 7-2 lead after a 3-pointer from Patterson. Patterson shot well again from 3-point range going 3-for-8, but was just 6-for-15 overall. Marquette answered and both teams went back and forth until the 12:31 mark. T.J. Henderson hit a 3-pointer to cut Marquette’s lead to 19-17, but then IUPUI went cold. They didn’t score again for nearly four minutes while Marquette built up a 14-point lead. IUPUI temporarily stopped the bleeding with 8:56 left after Aaron Brennan got into the lane for a layup, but the lead still ballooned. Leading 31-19, Marquette used an 8-2 run to force a timeout from the Jaguars.
The timeout helped IUPUI to get out of their funk on offense. They hit five of their next 10 shots, but by the three-minute mark, they still trilled 53-30. In every game this season, IUPUI either won or lost the game in the first half and this one was no different. They couldn’t defend Marquette at all, so as soon as their offense broke down, Marquette capitalized and ran away with the game. The score was 57-37 at the break and Marquette only added some cushion in the second half.
The defense is the most obvious place to look at why IUPUI lost this one, but it’s not the only place. IUPUI shot under 70 percent from the free-throw line, compared to 89 percent for Marquette. Marquette out-rebounded IUPUI 39-30 and IUPUI lost the turnover battle 14-13.
It could be unfair to expect a win in this spot; Marquette was a tournament team last year and is a power-conference school playing at home after-all. But IUPUI nearly won last year, they shoud be improved this year and they came into this game after back-to-back wins. It’s splitting hairs, but they even played Michigan closer than Marquette did. Despite all of that, they were handed their worst loss of the season so far, and that includes a game in which they gave up 56 free-throw attempts.
The good news is that O’Leary and Patterson have been extremely steady so far and Combs picked things back up. Despite the poor shooting night he made it to the line eight times and converted each time.
Moving on from the 2k Classic
IUPUI would certainly have liked to do better than 2-3, but it’s hard to imagine them doing much better given the quality of opponents. The road doesn’t get any easier though. They still have games against Northwestern and Illinois, both on the road, and each of their next five games are on the road. IUPUI took advantage of their brief home-stand, but now it’s time to hunker down. Sothern Illinois Edwardsville is up next Saturday at 2 p.m.