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December 6, 2011 at 6:19 AM

Scouting report: No. 11 Marquette

jae crowder excited.jpg
Scouting report: No. 11 Marquette
Game info: 6 p.m. Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (19,763 capacity)
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale)
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM
Record: 7-0.
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Coach: Brent ‘Buzz’ Williams is 76-36 in his fourth season with the Golden Eagles. He is 90-53 in five years as a head coach.
Prediction: Picked to finish sixth in the 16-team Big East Conference by coaches.
Series: Marquette leads 2-1.
Last meeting: Quincy Pondexter drove past Jimmy Butler and banked in a layup with 1.7 seconds remaining to give 11th-seed Washington an 80-78 win over No. 6 seed Marquette in the first round of the East Regional NCAA tournament in San Jose, Calif. Pondexter finished with 18 and 11 rebounds, Isaiah Thomas tallied a team-high 19 points, Matthew Bryan-Amaning 11 and Elston Turner came off the bench for 14. He also sank 4 of 5 three-pointers. Washington trailed by 15 points with 13 1/2 minutes remaining, but held Marquette without a field goal in the final 4:33.
Previous game: Marquette won 61-54 at then-No. 9 Wisconsin 61-54 last Saturday.
— Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom is the second leading returning scorer in the Big East and was a second-team all-conference pick last season. He averages 19.4 points per game and he’s a threat to score 30 point every time he steps on the floor. Johnson-Odom is a three-year starter and the most experienced MU player. He tallied 19 points. Johnson-Odom is a crafty left-handed scorer who is adept at attacking the rim and pulling up for a long-range jumper. He’s shooting 42.4 percent on three-pointers.
— Junior-college transfer Jae Crowder (above, far right) made a big impact in his first year with Marquette last season. He stepped in for departing star Lazar Hayward and immediately proved that he’s a solid rebounder, a go-to scorer in the post and a legit three-point threat. Last season he made 42 three-point shots. This season he’s converted 14 of 33 threes, which is 42 percent. UW coach Lorenzo Romar on Crowder: “I think he’s the most difficult matchup we’ll see this season. Someone with that size and that versatility is a difficult cover. You can’t put a smaller guy on him because he’ll just post him up. You put a slower guy on him and he’ll take you outside. He does a lot of things defensively. He’s out there kind of like a linebacker and I don’t mean that in terms of his physical appearance. He’s pressing sometimes. He’s switching on ball screens. He plays the ball screen several different ways. He’s just very, very versatile. And he’s a hard guy to deal with.”

— At the beginning of the week, Marquette was among the top 25 in the nation in five scoring categories. MU ranked 11th in points per game (84.1), ninth in field goal percentage (.509), 17th in free throws made per game (19.4) and 22nd in free throw attempts per game (27.3). Seven players are contributing at least five points per game and five players are shooting 50 percent]or]better from the field.
— Marquette ranked eight in the nation with 18.6 assists per game. MU is 11th nationally with a 1.46 assist-to-turnover ratio.
— MU scored at least 90 points in the first four games this season.
— MU also ranks ninth nationally in field goal percentage defense allowing opponents just 34.9 percent shooting.
— Sophomore guard Vander Blue has been a nice surprise this season after struggling as a freshman. He dropped a career-high 26 points on Winthrop, but he’s also been a lockdown defender who averages. 2.1 steals per game. Blue is a solid contributor who averages 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Junior Cadougan, a junior point guard, was suspended from the last game and will return tonight.
— Junior Chris Otule, a 6-11 center, embraces his role as a rebounder and defensive enforcer.
— Marquette has made six straight trips to the NCAA tournament and three with Williams.
— The Golden Eagles are one of 15 undefeated teams remaining in the nation through games of Dec. 4 and are looking to move to 8]0 for the first time since 2006]07.
— Marquette uses an 10-man rotation and each player is averaging at least 11.1 minutes per game. The bench came up big in Saturday’s win over Wisconsin outscoring the Badgers’ reserves 32-11. Freshman guard Todd Mayo, the younger brother of former USC star O.J. Mayo, leads the reserves with a 9.6 scoring average.
— Sophomore forward Jamil Wilson, a Racine, Wis. native, began his career at Oregon and left when the team fired Ernie Kent. He sat out last season and is averaging 3.7 points in 15.6 minutes as a reserve.
C – Chris Otule, 6-11, 265, Jr., 5.7 ppg., 4.9 rpg.
F – Jae Crowder, 6-6, 235, Sr., 16.9, 6.7
G – Vander Blue, 6-4, 200, So., 10.4, 4.0
G – Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2, 215, Sr., 19.4, 3.3 apg.
G – Junior Cadougan, 6-1, 205, Jr., 7.7, 6.3 apg.
— Slowing down Marquette starts with Johnson-Odom, but Crowder is priority No. 1 because Washington hasn’t faced a big man like him this season. It will be interesting to see who draws the defensive assignment against him. Romar hinted he may use a smaller player on Crowder, which suggest Terrence Ross, a 6-6 and 195-pound sophomore forward, may get a crack at him. Most likely the responsibility will fall to senior forward Darnell Gant and freshman Desmond Simmons. They have the size to bang with Crowder in the paint and should be quick enough to stay with him on the perimeter.

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