Marquette Set To Face Murray State For Trip To Sweet 16
March 16, 2012
The No. 11/11 Marquette University men's basketball team (25-7, 14-4 BIG EAST) will face No. 12/9 Murray State (31-1) on Saturday, March 17 at 4:15 p.m. CT in the NCAA Championship Third Round at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. CBS will feature Marquette's 21st national television broadcast of the campaign, with Verne Lundquist (play-by-play) and Bill Raftery (analyst) calling the action and Lesley Visser serving as the sideline reporter. A victory would allow MU to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second-straight season.
Lone Matchup With Racers Came In NCAA Play
Marquette has played Murray State on just one previous occasion in the program's 95-year history, with the game coming in the opening round of the 1969 NCAA Championship.
MU posted an 82-62 victory on March 8, 1969 in the postseason opener that season in Carbondale, Ill. George Thompson led all scorers with 23 points, while Dean Meminger added 15 for Marquette. Marquette led 42-32 at the half before cruising to a 82-62 victory. Claude Virden led the Racers with 17 points.
Marquette would defeat No. 7 Kentucky 81-74 before falling to No. 6 Purdue 75-73. The 1968-69 campaign was the fifth under legendary head coach Al McGuire and the second NCAA appearance of his tenure.
Marquette finished the year 24-5 that season, led by Thompson's 20.2 points per game.
Crowder Continues Impressive Stretch Run
Marquette senior Jae Crowder, who collected BIG EAST Player of the Year accolades largely because of his play down the stretch of the regular season, has continued that trend in postseason action.
His most recent effort was a 25-point, 16-rebound performance in 35 minutes against BYU. He finished 10-of-20 from the field and collected his 13th double-double of the campaign before halftime. Crowder also found time to chip in four assists and four steals.
Over the course of the last nine games (dating back to Feb. 6 at DePaul), Crowder is averaging 21.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.6 assists per game. He is shooting 52.3 percent (68-of-130) from the field in those games and 76.7 percent (46-of-60) from the charity stripe.
Of his 13 double-doubles on the year, six have come in the last nine games and during that run he has netted six efforts of 23-or-more points.
MU Makes Seventh-Straight NCAA Appearance
Marquette made its seventh-straight appearance (seventh-longest current active streak in NCAA) in the NCAA Championship and 30th overall with the opening tip against BYU, marking the first time since 1980 the program has advanced to the postseason seven consecutive years.
The 1980 appearance actually capped a 10-year run in the NCAA's, which included the 1977 National Championship squad. Legendary coach Al McGuire led MU to a 67-59 win over North Carolina in the title matchup that season, one of nine NCAA appearances during his tenure.
MU is 37-30 all-time in the NCAA's, which includes six appearances in the regional championship game and three in the Final Four. Marquette owns 45 all-time postseason berths (NCAA, NIT and National Catholic Tournament).
MU Hoping To Turn 16 For The 15th Time
Marquette will be looking to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second-straight season with a victory over Murray State on Saturday and the program's 15th overall.
The Golden Eagles were seeded 11th in the 2011 NCAA Championship and defeated No. 6 Xavier (66-55) and No. 3 Syracuse (66-62) in Cleveland, Ohio before falling to No. 2 North Carolina (81-63) in the Sweet 16 in Newark, N.J.
Gardner's Value Proven After Returning From Injury
Sophomore forward Davante Gardner missed eight games at the end of the regular season with a left knee strain and although MU posted a 6-2 mark in those games, his value to the lineup has been vital in the three games since his return.
The Suffolk, Va., native finished with 15 points and six rebounds in just 22 minutes off the bench against BYU, finishing 4-of-7 from the field and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Since coming off the injury list in the regular season finale against Georgetown (March 3), Gardner is chipping in 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the last three outings. He is shooting 9-of-16 from the floor and 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line. Of his 19 total rebounds, 10 have come at the offensive end.
Mayo Finds Early-Season Shooting Touch
Through the first 20 games of the season, freshman guard Todd Mayo collected 13 double-figure scoring efforts and was ranked among the league's top scoring newcomers.
Since that time however, the Huntington, W.V., native collected just one game of 10-or-more points (10 points at UConn, Feb. 18) prior to Thursday afternoon's win over BYU. Mayo finished with 10 points against the Cougars, knocking down 3-of-5 shots from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the 3-point line. In the previous 12 outings, Mayo was just 2-of-19 from long distance.
Mayo also chipped in six rebounds, two steals and two assists in 22 minutes off the bench against BYU.