No. 6 Baylor was rocked Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
It was as if the Bears didn’t show up until halfway through the second half, by which time it was too late.
Unranked Marquette completely beat the Bears with a dominant 96-70 victory at the Fiserv Forum, setting off the Big East-Big 12 battle. It was Baylor’s worst loss since 2007 and Marquette’s biggest loss against a top 10 team in 51 years .
“When you enter the game and in the minds of your players, the game is more important than anything else, for me that is the best recipe for victory,” said Marquette head coach Shaka Smart. “It should always be like this, but human nature sometimes gets in the way. I thought we could do it tonight.”
Marquette took full advantage of Baylor’s slow start, who struggled to do anything in the first half and quickly found himself on the wrong side 25-9 out of the net.
The Golden Eagles finished a 10-2 period that lasted over five minutes, giving them a 51-25 lead at halftime. They forced 16 passes in the first 20 minutes and limited Baylor to just 10 field goals.
The second half started much better for the Bears, who traded buckets with Marquette in the first minutes. By then, Marquette’s advantage was too great. The Golden Eagles won with 26 points.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper led Marquette with 24 points, scoring 9 of 12 from the field. Cam Jones finished with 20 points on four 3s and David Joplin added 19 points off the bench. The Golden Eagles also shot almost 60% from the field as a team and scored 12 of 25 from behind the arc.
LJ Cryer led Baylor by 19 points and Adam Flagler added 16 points and six rebounds. Keyonte George was the only other player to hit double figures with 12 points. Baylor had 20 turnovers on the night, leading to Marquette’s 26 points.
Marquette is not a bad team. The Golden Eagles’ only losses this season have come in fifth place in the rankings of Purdue and Mississippi State, and they have lost eight points in total. They were by no means favorites to win the Big East – that honor goes to No. 9 Creighton – but Tuesday proved that Marquette could run with anyone.
On the other hand, Baylor has a lot of work to do. The Bears are up against #14 Gonzaga on Friday, so they need to get this sorted out quickly.
“Watching them play against the team they’ve played with up to this point, it was an out of character game for them,” Smart said of Baylor. “During the season, everyone goes through this game. All I can focus on is the work our guys have done… They have as good a backcourt as anyone else.”