Looking ahead: BYU makes historical comeback, but it doesn't get any easier Thurs. vs. Marquette

2012-03-14T00:45:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:19Z Looking ahead: BYU makes historical comeback, but it doesn't get any easier Thurs. vs. MarquetteJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
March 14, 2012 12:45 am  • 

DAYTON, Ohio — Tweets were being sent from every possible angle late Tuesday night by BYU players and staff.

That was all part of the hoopla that extended from the University of Dayton Arena court to the locker room to the cell-phone keypads, all because of a wild 78-72 comeback in which the Cougars rallied from a 25-point deficit when just 26 minutes remained.

The party moves to Louisville, Ky., as the team will take an 11 a.m. bus ride about 150 miles on Wednesday to get ready for a Thursday afternoon (2:45 p.m. EDT) tipoff with the country's No. 11-ranked team.

Remember, that's not a seed. Marquette is a No. 3 in the West Region, compared to BYU's No. 14.

And as hard as BYU made things look against Iona, it doesn't get any easier.

Marquette finished second (25-7 overall, 14-4 in conference play) in the Big East, a league which features a national-championship contender (Syracuse) and that sent nine teams to the NCAA Tournament.

The Golden Eagles, coached by one-time Colorado State assistant Buzz Williams — he was on the staff when the Rams went to the NCAA showcase in 2003 — feature a pair of players that rank among the top 20 in the game today.

Guard Darius Johnson-Odom averages 18.5 points and nearly three assists. Forward Jae Crowder, who is 6-foot-6, chips in 17.4 points and eight rebounds.

BYU started thinking about Marquette soon after the historic 78-72 rally against Iona, the largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.

The Cougars, improving to 26-8, had a 38-17 scoring edge in the second half that extended the season.

Though there are certainly still faults that Marquette could exploit. Against a significantly undersized team, BYU still gave up a 41-30 scoring edge in the paint.

The Cougars missed nine of their 20 free throws.

"It's part of that 'March Madness' I think, and it's a team that has worked hard all year. Never give up on anyone," senior forward Noah Hartsock said after the best 23-point game he could ever imagine.

The question now becomes: Is it Marquette that is at a disadvantage?

Don't laugh that hard.

BYU now has an NCAA Tournament game under its belt. The jitters are out, likely, even as they switch venues.

It has history on its side: Before this, the largest comeback in an NCAA game was 22 points, when Duke defeated Maryland in the 2001 Final Four.

BYU couldn't be feeling any better about itself, especially since the last game was a March 3 blowout handed down by Gonzaga.

Marquette hasn't played since March 8, losing in the Big East tournament to eventual champion Louisville.

Teams are no strangers to playing on one day's rest. That's where BYU will find itself. Could it be an edge to have had a more recent game than the opponent? 

The team will get to Louisville in the early afternoon and have media responsibilities at 4:30 p.m. along with the traditional, open 40-minute shoot-around at the KFC Yum! Center.

BYU's offense picked it up in the second half against Iona, which is what the Marquette staff will be analyzing. The zone defense really thwarted Iona, which missed 14 of its 15 3-point shots in the final 20 minutes.

There were all sorts of reasons. Missed coaching opportunities (Tim Cluess took all of the blame), poor movement without the ball and the lack of height finally catching up to the Gaels at both ends of the floor.

It was a major win for BYU moving forward.

It doesn't make them invincible though. Remember, the Cougars still found a way to trail by 25 points against a team that was also nearly on the outside looking in for an at-large bid.

 The Cougars will likely try the zone defense against Marquette, but it's hard to find a team that plays the style better than Syracuse.

Marquette lost the one meeting this year (the league has an unbalanced schedule) on the road, 73-66.

 

∫Brandon Davies was a totally different player in the second half.

No longer was he out of control, making passes that — as CBS TV and Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis joked on Twitter — "had never been tried before."

Davies, a junior center, continues to be a hot topic around the NCAA Tournament.

It's not Jimmer-mania. But a lot of people remember that he missed the event last season after getting suspended.

Davies told the Daily Herald on Sunday that "I want to be there for my teammates, because they were there for me last year — when I couldn't be there for them."

Davies sat on the bench for all three tournament games through Denver and New Orleans, but nothing substitutes true experience.

He was trying too hard early against Iona.

At one point he Davies dribbled for a while then charged into a Gael for a turnover.

"And it just was not him," Rose said. "It's not what he does. And I kind of brought him over at the timeout and just explained some things to him about how important it was for him to play well for us, but for himself; that he waited for such a long time and worked so hard to be in that situation. Let's at least play like you play, and make the plays you make. And I think he settled down from there."

 

 

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