Norfolk St.-Marquette Preview
The 16th-ranked Golden Eagles will face the Spartans for the second time in exactly a week in the final of the Paradise Jam tournament Monday night.
Marquette (4-0) defeated Norfolk State 99-68 last Monday at the Bradley Center, building on a strong first half with an even more dominant effort after the break. The Golden Eagles shot 59.4 percent while scoring 59 points in the second half.
Four players scored in double figures, led by Jae Crowder, who finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Williams said he didn't need to draw up many plays, choosing to let his team improvise.
"We ran three plays out of 80-something possessions," he said. "Is that the right way to do it?
"It's probably not the right way to do it during the first semester, but I believe it's the right way to do it to play past spring break because we are teaching them how to play, not a play," he said.
Whatever the Golden Eagles are drawing up offensively, it's working. The team is using a 10-man rotation that is second in Division I with 95.3 points per game. Three players are averaging at least 15.0 points a game.
Crowder, in his second year with Marquette after transferring from junior college, is second on the team with 18.8 points per game. He had 25 points in Marquette's 96-66 rout of Mississippi on Sunday, adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Darius Johnson-Odom scored 20 points while Davante Gardner had 15.
Three different players have led the Golden Eagles in scoring this season.
"We have a lot of weapons and anyone can step up any night on this team," Crowder said. "Everyone is getting chances so when your number is called, you have to step up."
That kind of depth proved too much for Norfolk State (3-1), which has won three straight since its season-opening loss to Marquette.
The Spartans advanced to the tournament final with a 66-53 win over TCU on Sunday after a surprise 61-56 victory over Drexel on Friday.
Kyle O'Quinn recorded his third straight double-double with 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks Sunday while Chris McEachin added 16 points. The Spartans had 24 turnovers, but held the Horned Frogs to 25.4 percent shooting and 15 field goals.
O'Quinn, averaging 11.0 points and 10.0 rebounds, is looking to be a bigger presence this time against the Golden Eagles. He fouled out midway through the second half against Marquette after being held to four points on 1-of-5 shooting in 20 minutes.
O'Quinn didn't score in the second half and his absence allowed the Golden Eagles to pull away by going inside.
"For my team to be successful I've got to be on the court," he said. "That was a plus on their side."
It's not so unusual that two non-conference teams will face each other twice in a week. It happened twice last season.