Mar 23, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles guard Derrick Wilson (12) and Marquette Golden Eagles guard Trent Lockett (22) celebrate in the game against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half during the third round of the NCAA basketball tournament at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Tournament: Marquette Edges Butler, 74-72


12-2 run by Butler to take 33-23 with under 4 minutes remaining in 1st half.

– 1st half Marquette – 7-27 FG (26%), 2-7 3-PT (29%), 20 rebounds, 7 turnovers,

– 1st half Butler – 11-29 FG (38%), 7-13 3-PT (54%), 15 rebounds, 5 turnovers, Rotnei Clarke (18 points, 6-9 FG, 3-6 3-PT)

In one of the wildest games of the tournament (and in my opinion, the wildest), Marquette squeaked out a 74-72 victory over Butler. There was an errant pass (or two), questionable shot selection, and some so-so free-throw shooting, but in the end, the Golden Eagles rode an impressive 2nd-half  performance on both ends to the win.

The story of the night for Marquette was the play of Vander Blue. The junior guard poured in 29 points on just 15 shot attempts, leading the team back from their significant (8-point) half-time deficit with big-time play. Marquette shot the ball horrendously in the first half (26%) but finished the night having shot 43% thanks to some hot shooting (16-27) in the second frame.

On the defensive end of the court, Marquette also clamped down in Butler in a big way in the second half, cooling Butler’s shooting from 7-13 in the first half from 3-point distance to just 4-11 in the second half, and putting the cap on a red-hot Rotnei Clarke by holding him to just 6 points after the half.

[RELATEDDownload the 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket here]

Butler played incredibly well in the first half, raining threes behind Rotnei Clarke (who made 3 of his 6 attempts) and grabbing a 8-point halftime lead. After the break, however, things slowed considerably from beyond the arc, and Marquette established themselves athletically on the opposite end, overwhelming the Bulldogs in the paint.

It was a true back-and-forth contest for much of the second half, and the final decision wasn’t made until Andrew Smith’s heave went begging at the buzzer for Butler. Both teams are incredibly well-coached, and in addition to the closeness of the game (which contributes heavily to the excitement), it was great to see a high level of play on both ends of the court throughout crunch time. Marquette moves on to face the Miami/Illinois winner in the Sweet 16, and while they would be the lower-seeded team in a potential Miami match-up, they certainly wouldn’t be a significant underdog in that game.

It was a wild night in Lexington, and we can all hope for this level of play going forward in the rest of the tournament.

Be sure to stay tuned to and throughout the entire tournament as we keep you up to date with the latest results. Will there be a Cinderella story in 2013? We will have to tune in and see.

Tags: 2013 NCAA Tournament Butler Bulldogs Marquette Golden Eagles

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