With minimal exceptions (Godfather II, anyone?), sequels rarely surpass the quality of an original performance.
Yet, nine days removed from upending South Florida (10-12, 1-9) by 13 points, the Marquette Golden Eagles proved to indeed be the exception as they dismantled the Bulls, 70-47, Wednesday evening at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
On the heels of suffering their second-worst defeat of the season at the hands of Louisville this past Sunday, No. 24 Marquette (16-5, 7-2), who had four players score in double figures, got out to a fast start against USF and never looked back.
“We got them to play the pace we wanted to play at,” cited junior guard Vander Blue, who scored 13 points, as reported by the AP. “We threw the first punch and we just kept throwing them.”
The prominent figure is the delivery of such proverbial haymakers was sophomore Todd Mayo, who registered all of his season-best 13 points during the opening frame.
Mayo, making his tenth appearance off the bench this season, scored nine consecutive points during the mid-point of the first half en route to MU staking a 39-14 lead at intermission.
“I think that the bench is a great teacher, a lot better teacher than I am,” noted Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, whose squad shot 53.8 percent in the first half, according to the AP. “I think Todd has worked much harder in practice over the last week, particularly the last three days, and he was able to make some shots.”
The Huntington, W.Va. native had a little help on the evening, too.
Blue, who scored a career-high 30 points against the Bulls last week, compiled his 11th straight double-digit scoring effort; Junior Cadougan, who opened the game’s scoring via a four-point play, pumped in 11 points; and Jamil Wilson accounted for 10 points off the bench.
Collectively, the Golden Eagles, who remain tied with Syracuse atop the Big East totem pole, shot 45.1 percent from the field and never allowed Stan Heath’s club to within ten points following the 10:47 mark in the first half.
As MU thrived during the game’s first 20 minutes, USF, meanwhile, struggled mightily.
The Bulls, who have lost five straight and nine of their past ten, shot 5-of-18 from the field and had 14 turnovers—which the Golden Eagles converted into 23 points.
South Florida, paced by Zach LeDay’s 14 points, pulled to within 44-24 in the second half following a dunk by the aforementioned LeDay with 15:10 remaining. However, Marquette responded by stringing together an 11-4 run to close the door on the Bulls’ comeback effort.
Marquette, who shot 85.7 percent (18-of-21) from the charity stripe on the night, returns to the hardwood on Saturday when they play host to the DePaul Blue Demons (10-12, 1-8) on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CT.