March 2, 2010
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MILWAUKEE (AP) Maurice Acker believes Marquette has done enough to make the NCAA tournament. Louisville believes it has work left to do.
Darius Johnson-Odom scored 22 points and Marquette used an 18-0 run straddling halftime to beat Louisville 69-48 on Tuesday night and improve its NCAA tournament hopes at the expense of another bubble team.
"I would say so," Acker said if he thought the Golden Eagles had done enough to make the NCAA tournament. "Twenty wins means a lot to us and the program, but at the same time, we're still focused on the next games we've got coming up. We've still got a lot left, a lot of season left."
Acker scored 15 points and Joe Fulce had 11 for the Golden Eagles, who have won nine of their last 10, including the last three wins in overtime. Marquette (20-9, 11-6 Big East) had no need for five extra minutes against the Cardinals after thoroughly dominating them in an 8Â½-minute stretch.
"I'm spent," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said after leading the Golden Eagles to their fourth win in nine days. "I'm bankrupt emotionally. I haven't slept much."
Louisville (19-11, 10-7) still has a strong postseason resume, but now may need one more signature win. The Cardinals will get that chance on Saturday when they host No. 1 Syracuse in the final regular-season game in Freedom Hall after 54 years. Louisville beat Syracuse 66-60 at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 14.
"One game left," said Edgar Sosa, who led Louisville with nine points. "We have to win it. That's what it comes down to."
The Cardinals will also need Samardo Samuels. He had four points, nearly 12 off his season average.
"This was a game where one team was going to have a lock for the NCAA tournament," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They got it tonight and we didn't. We've got work to do."
It appeared like Marquette might be in serious trouble early after its two biggest producers picked up multiple fouls.
Leading scorer Lazar Hayward drew his second with just over 7 minutes to play in the half and second-leading scorer Jimmy Butler was called for two more in a span of 30 seconds with 5:09 left. Both sat until the final possession of the half, but Marquette increased its lead to 33-23 thanks in part to 3-pointers by Johnson-Odom, Acker and David Cubillan.
"No ... an 18-0 run, that's not expected from a team without 'Zar and Jimmy being in the game," Johnson-Odom said. "I think we just played way harder on offense and defense."
Rakeem Buckles' free throw with 1:24 left in the first half was the Cardinals' last point until Reginald Delk hit a 3 with just under 13 minutes to play.
By that point, the Cardinals were down 46-26 and a late run did little to stem the tide, despite drawing the third fouls on Hayward and Butler early in the second half.
While on the big run, Marquette coach Buzz Williams got in the act, jumping up and down repeatedly and kicking his left leg out like an awkward cheerleader in exuberance after Fulce grabbed a rebound off a missed 3 and turned it into a three-point play.
"He's a goofy dude, man," Johnson-Odom said.
Williams later two-stepped down the sideline in the closing seconds after an emphatic final dunk by Johnson-Odom.
"I probably didn't handle myself very well professionally on that," Williams said. "I wasn't being disrespectful to our fans or Louisville's fans or staff or players."
Said Acker: "They'll probably put him on ESPN."
Pitino looked on without emotion on the other end, never quite finding the right combination to stop the smaller, quicker Golden Eagles.
The Cardinals, who shot 37 percent from the field, went on a 13-2 run to cut it to 48-38 midway through the second half. But Hayward, who had been held scoreless to that point, responded with a slam and then a tap-in moments and Acker hit a 3-pointer that made it 57-40 with 6:46 left.
Marquette pulled away from there, and Williams has big plans for his off day on Wednesday.
"They need a break physically, but I think we all need a break emotionally, so we're going to get one," Williams said. "I'm watching 'The View' and 'Price Is Right' -- all that stuff."