HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Marquette’s players have heard over and over the last couple of weeks that they needed a quality road win to enhance their NCAA tournament resume.
They got it.
Darius Johnson-Odom scored nine of his 17 points in overtime Thursday night to lead the Golden Eagles to a 74-67 victory over No. 14 Connecticut, which played without coach Jim Calhoun on the bench.
“This was just another game,” Johnson-Odom said when asked about how big this game was coming in for the Golden Eagles. “I don’t know anything about our hopes for the tournament or whatnot. All we can do is keep playing, finish the season out and see what happens at the end.”
Jimmy Butler added 16 points for the Golden Eagles (17-11, 8-7 Big East), who tied the game at 59 with 5.3 seconds left on a drive by Johnson-Odom.
“We definitely needed a quality road win, a road win period,” Butler said, referring to Marquette’s 0-6 road record against ranked teams coming in. “We needed a game when we were up and we could finish out a game and win it. We kept playing Marquette basketball and toughed it up and won it.”
Kemba Walker led the Huskies (20-7, 8-7) with 27 points, but the junior guard missed four shots and committed one turnover in the extra period. Walker also committed two turnovers in the final 1:20 of regulation, the second with 10 seconds left that led to Johnson-Odom’s tying basket.
“We just wanted to get something up, get to the basket,” Walker said of the second turnover. “They were playing me tough and I turned it over. I was a little careless with the ball and they were able to take those turnovers and make them into baskets.”
It was the Huskies’ first game since the NCAA revealed its sanctions against the program over recruiting violations. Among the penalties was a suspension of Calhoun for next season’s first three Big East games. Calhoun was cited for failing to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program.
Calhoun left the team Wednesday to be with his family in New Hampshire following the death of his sister-in-law on Monday.
This was the 15th game that associate head coach George Blaney replaced Calhoun on the bench and Connecticut’s record in those games dropped to 7-8.
“Coach talked to them before he left yesterday and we had a good practice and a good shootaround today,” Blaney said. “I talked to him, too, before the game and I’ll talk to him again now.”
The loss was the third in five games for the Huskies, who beat Marquette 76-68 in their earlier meeting this season.
“Seventeen turnovers is the answer,” Blaney said of the loss that dropped the Huskies to 8-2 at the XL Center with the other loss to Syracuse.
Nine of Marquette’s 11 losses have been to ranked teams, and this looked to be No. 10 when the Huskies opened the second half with a 26-7 run to wipe out an 11-point halftime deficit.
The Golden Eagles responded with an 8-2 run that brought them to 51-49 with 6:55 to play.
There were two lead changes and three ties from there, including Johnson-Odom’s drive that tied it with 5.3 seconds left.
Walker missed a spin move as the regulation buzzer sounded.
Johnson-Odom made one of two free throws and a jumper in the opening 40 seconds of the overtime to give Marquette the lead for good.
His move down low followed by a jumper made it 70-65 with 1:12 left. Donnell Beverly missed two free throws for the Huskies and Dwight Buycks hit two for Marquette to make it 72-65 with 25 seconds left.
“I don’t know any way statistically you can explain how we won,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “We couldn’t make a shot. They got every 50-50 ball in the second half. They absolutely hammered us on the offensive glass. But we hung in there. We had every reason to shut down with how good they are but we didn’t.”
Buycks had 13 points for Marquette, which lost its 11 games by an average of 5.6 points with only one in double figures. This was their third victory over a ranked opponent after wins over Notre Dame and Syracuse.
“You can get consumed with it,” Williams said of Marquette’s NCAA chances. “We had to be consumed with tonight’s game not how it would impact two weeks from now but tonight.”
Alex Oriakhi had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Huskies, while Jeremy Lamb had eight points and 12 rebounds. Connecticut finished with a 57-43 rebound advantage, including by nine on the offensive end.
“Twenty-eight offensive rebounds and we shot 36 percent,” Blaney said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before.”
Connecticut started the game by making five of its first nine shots to take an 11-3 lead.
The shooting disappeared against Marquette’s 2-3 zone for the rest of the half. While the Huskies closed the opening 20 minutes by going 5 of 23 from the field, the Golden Eagles started to make their shots — although they didn’t exactly scorch the nets, either, going 13 of 33 (39.4 percent).
With Butler leading the way with 13 points, Marquette took a 34-23 halftime lead. Butler capped the 31-12 run with 3 seconds left in the half by making a 15-foot jumper as the shot clock expired.
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