Jae Crowder scored 25 points, and Jimmy Butler added 19 as Marquette handed No. 10 Syracuse its fourth straight loss with a 76-70 win.
It marked the first time since January 2006 that Syracuse (18-4, 5-4 Big East) has lost four straight games (Jan. 16-29). It was also Marquette’s first win against Syracuse since joining the Big East in 2005.
The Orange defense — which has struggled in all four of its losses — was again the culprit against the Golden Eagles (14-8, 5-4), allowing Marquette to shoot 52 percent from the field and 6-for-13 from downtown. The last of those six makes came with 1:02 left and Marquette clinging to a 69-66 lead. Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom drained a 3-pointer with two seconds left on the shot clock just one possession after Butler hit a 3 of his own with the shot clock winding down.
“You can play better defense, but we played pretty well defensively,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “They have a good shooting team. The last three 3s they made were very tough shots.”
Kris Joseph scored 18 points to lead Syracuse while Scoop Jardine chipped in with 13 points and 13 assists.
One game after a 22 point home blowout against Seton Hall, Boeheim got a better effort from his group as Syracuse shot a torrid 57 percent from the field and 6-for-13 from downtown. But as has been the trend in recent losses, the Orange struggled at the start of the game, quickly falling behind 10-3 after a Johnson-Odom dunk just 3:28 into the game.
Crowder was also a big reason for Marquette’s early lead. The forward found holes in the porous Orange defense, scoring 12 points in the first half on a multitude of dazzling inside finishes and outside jumpers. Most of his points came at the expense of Syracuse’s young center duo of Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita.
“[Melo and Keita are] learning, they’re trying to get better,” Boeheim said. “A lot of stuff they got inside with Crowder, that’s their fault. They’re getting better. They will get better. I just don’t know if it will be soon enough.”
The rest of the Golden Eagles followed suit, as they earned seven trips to the free throw line in the first half. Syracuse, meanwhile, attempted only two total free throws as the Golden Eagles opened up a 42-31 lead going into intermission.
“We’ve been coming out a little slow in all of the games we lost,” guard Brandon Triche said. “Guys jumped on us. It’s tough for us to come back and expend that extra energy.”
The Orange — which played without guard Dion Waiters and forward James Southerland — did exactly that in the second half. Syracuse became more active on defense and forced 14 turnovers, including two steals in a 10-3 run that was capped by a Jardine layup off of a Triche steal to pull SU to within 55-52 with 10:06 left.
A CJ Fair jumper with 3:15 left tied the game at 64-64, but the Orange would never take the lead. Joseph would tie the game again at 66 with 2:35 left before Johnson-Odom and Butler each made 3s to put the Golden Eagles up six.
“It was a great game, and both teams played well,” Boeheim said. “Every game is tough [in the Big East.] There are no easy games. Everyone knows that.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.