No. 14 Marquette Edges Villanova, 81-77
Jan. 1, 2012
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Darius Johnson-Odom matched a season-high with 24 points and led No. 14 Marquette to an 81-77 victory over Villanova on Sunday.
Reserve forward Davante Gardner had 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (12-2, 1-0 Big East), who responded from their worst performance of the season - a 17-point drubbing by Vanderbilt on Thursday - with a solid start to the conference season.
The Wildcats have lost seven of 10 after starting the season 4-0.
"We didn't play 40 minutes but we did play the last 4 minutes of each half," Wright said. "When you're talking about these things, that's not a good sign, but I do see signs of promise in this group."
Markus Kennedy had a collegiate-high 12 rebounds and equaled his season-high with eight points for Villanova, which was 3 of 17 on 3s.
"That's just been our team, consistency," Wright said. "It's just the consistency of playing every possession that this team has to learn. We don't have that yet, but I think we'll get it. I do."
Darius Johnson-Odom matched a season-high with 24 points to lead the Golden Eagles.
Reserve forward Davante Gardner had 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (12-2, 1-0), who responded from their worst performance of the season - a 17-point drubbing by Vanderbilt on Thursday - with a solid start to the conference season.
"Everybody was down on themselves after the loss, just trying to figure out ways for us to get better," Johnson-Odom said. "And that's what we did the next day. We did a lot of drills, a lot of five-on-five drills and a lot of competing.
"We just have to get back to playing hard, and I think we did that today."
It took 33 seconds to turn things around, with Vander Blue tossing a pass to a cutting Johnson-Odom at the rim, and the senior guard throwing it down on Marquette's first offensive possession. The Golden Eagles never trailed from there.
"That was a read," Johnson-Odom said. "That usually doesn't happen for me. But Van made a good play, I finished it off. That is what started our run and gave us more energy."
Wright said Johnson-Odom's first half was "a killer."
"They do a great job of finding him in transition and he does a great job being patient and waiting for the ball to get to him in the offense," Wright said. "I thought we did a better job (on him) in the second half."
Marquette led 42-39 at halftime and opened the first 2-plus minutes of the second half on a 9-0 run. Jae Crowder scored seven points during the spurt.
Villanova cut it to 53-46 before Todd Mayo converted a three-point play and Johnson-Odom followed with a 3-pointer to put the Golden Eagles up by 15 points.
Villanova closed within five with two free throws by Darrun Hilliard and a 3-pointer by Achraf Yacoubou with 1:51 remaining. But the Wildcats could get no closer until a tip-in by Maurice Sutton with 6.7 seconds left.
Marquette's Junior Cadougan made two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining to seal it. The Golden Eagles missed 4 of 8 free throws over the final 37 seconds.