Marquette To Face Florida In Sweet 16 Matchup Thursday Night

Marquette practiced in front of NCAA tournament fans Wednesday at the US Airways Center

March 19, 2012

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The No. 3 seed Marquette University men's basketball team (27-7, 14-4 BIG EAST) makes its second-straight appearance in the Sweet 16 when the team faces No. 7 seed Florida (25-10, 10-6 SEC) on Thursday, March 22 in the US Airways Center at 9:17 p.m. CT in Phoenix, Ariz. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst), Len Elmore (analyst) and Marty Snider (sideline) will call Marquette's 22nd national television broadcast of the campaign.

Marquette Turns 16 For 15th Time

Marquette is making its seventh-straight appearance (30th overall) in the NCAA Championship and its 15th trip to the round of 16. This year's selection marks the first time since 1980 the program has advanced to the postseason seven consecutive years.

The 1980 appearance 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.

Thursday's game will mark the program's first back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances since the national title campaign of 1977. MU had also advanced to the regional championship in 1976, but was knocked out by eventual national champion Indiana, which finished a perfect 32-0.

MU is 38-30 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).

The matchup with Florida will mark the first postseason trip to the state of Arizona for MU, which has now played in the West Region three times.

Series With Gators Dates Back To Championship Season

Marquette has faced Florida on just two occasions in the 95-year history of the program, completing a home-and-home series with the Gators in 1976-77 and 1977-78.

MU posted a 64-61 victory on December 8, 1976 in Gainesville before downing Florida 81-67 on Dec. 10, 1977 in Milwaukee. Marquette finished 25-7 in 1976-77 en route to the national title and 24-4 in 1977-78.

The Golden Eagles faced three Southeastern Conference opponents in 2011-12, falling to both LSU (67-59, Dec. 19) and Vanderbilt (74-57, Dec. 29) and defeating Ole Miss (96-66, Nov. 20).

Defense Keys Team's Run To Phoenix

Marquette's offensive attack has consistently been one of the better performing units in the nation, but to this point in the NCAA Championship it's been the defense that has carried the team.

BYU and Murray State combined to shoot just 34.4 percent (43-of-125) from the floor overall and 27.5 percent (11-of-40) from behind the 3-point line. Marquette has also forced 16.5 turnovers per game in the two outings.

Marquette is 14-2 in 2011-12 and 41-3 overall under Buzz Williams when holding opponents under 40.0 percent shooting from the field.

Crowder Continues Impressive Stretch Run

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 17-point, 13-rebound performance in 39 minutes against Murray State. He finished 6-of-13 from the field and collected his 14th double-double of the year. Crowder also found time to chip in three steals, two assists and two blocks.

Over the course of the last 10 games (dating back to Feb. 6 at DePaul), Crowder is averaging 21.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.5 assists per game. He is shooting 51.7 percent (74-of-143) from the field in those games and 74.6 percent (50-of-67) from the charity stripe.

Of his 14 double-doubles on the year, seven have come in the last 10 games (five straight) and during that run he has netted six efforts of 23-or-more points.

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 four games since his return.

The Suffolk, Va., native finished with 15 points and six boards in 22 minutes off the bench against BYU and chipped in six points late in the second half against Murray State.

Since coming off the injury list in the regular season finale against Georgetown (March 3), Gardner is chipping in 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in the last four outings. He is shooting 11-of-20 (55.0 percent) from the floor and 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) from the free throw line. Of his 21 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 last Thursday'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. He followed that up with eight points and six rebounds in the victory over Murray State. Mayo has chipped in 9.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in the two NCAA matchups.

In the 12 previous outings to BYU, Mayo was just 2-of-19 from long distance.




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