Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 1/1/12
MILWAUKEE -- That's how you bounce back from a bad outing. After getting dominated in just about every aspect of the game in their final non-conference contest of the year last Thursday, No. 14 Marquette came back and opened the Big East Conference portion of the schedule strong with a 81-77 victory over Villanova on Sunday at the Bradley Center. Considering how much went wrong for the Golden Eagles last time around, it's hard to not be impressed with what they did right Sunday. Against the Vanderbilt Commodores, Marquette couldn't shoot the ball or stop its opponent from scoring. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over. They were sloppy and largely lethargic. You never would have guessed it was the same team taking the court Sunday. Credit some pretty good practice sessions for the turnaround. "Our guys' response from the debacle on Thursday was outstanding," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. "I thought we played with great energy. I thought we had purpose in what we were doing offensively and defensively. (I'm) pleased, from top to bottom." Williams said that more than anything, his team focused on "playing hard" and getting back to the principles that helped the Golden Eagles jump out to an 11-1 record heading into the Vanderbilt game this past Thursday. Marquette came out flat from the start, hitting just one of its first 15 shots and trailed by as many as 27 in the first half of what would become the Golden Eagles' worst home loss in Williams' tenure. In prepping for the trip to Milwaukee, Villanova coach Jay Wright watched plenty of tape of that game but was confident that his team wouldn't see the Marquette squad that fell on its face last time out. "It looked like an aberration to me," Wright said. "They never quit. I don't think you'll see another game like that." By all accounts, Wright was correct. Sunday, Marquette came out hot from the start, getting on the board first when Vander Blue found Darius Johnson-Odom in transition for a dunk. Johnson-Odom led both teams with 24 points, scoring 18 in the first half. They applied pressure on defense and got stops, the transition game was clicking and the offense was patient, they got the ball in the paint -- all the little things that were sorely lacking the last time around. Even when the Wildcats threatened with a run late in the first half, cutting an 11-point Marquette lead to a one-possession ballgame in the final minute, the Golden Eagles stayed calm and collected and went into the locker room with the lead. "How our team is constructed and how our team is built, you could better see that today than you could on Thursday," Williams said. "That's a derivative of paint touches. Paint touches are typically going to lead to assists, typically going to lead to free throw makes. We should have made more free throws down the stretch when they had to foul, but to have 37 opportunities in a Big East game, that says a lot about the pressure you are applying to their defense." The road gets no easier for Marquette, which hits the road this week for games at No. 12 Georgetown and No. 1 Syracuse. "Everybody was down on themselves after the loss, just trying to figure out ways for us to get better," Johnson-Odom said. "And that's what we did the next day. We did a lot of drills, a lot of five-on-five drills and a lot of competing. We just have to get back to playing hard and I think we did that today."
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