Marquette, coming off of a disappointing 3-point road loss to Seton Hall on Saturday, traveled back home to Fiserv Forum for another Big East clash as the Golden Eagles hosted Butler on Wednesday night. What started out as an early lead and a celebration of junior guard Kam Jones reaching 1000 career points quickly dissolved into missed shot after missed shot. On a night where Marquette was looking for a bounceback performance in front of the home crowd, the Golden Eagles managed to shoot just 33% from the field, witnessed a potential season-ending injury to guard Sean Jones, and fell to Butler 69-62.
Marquette was an 11.5-point favorite heading into their Big East game against back-on-the-grid head coach Thad Matta’s Butler Bulldogs, but you might not have been able to tell by watching the game play out. The first half wasn't all bad for Marquette, as they went into the break with a 7-point lead behind Kam Jones’ 17 points, despite the team going just 1-12 from beyond the arc. What lead they had quickly evaporated in the opening minutes of the second half, as Butler chipped away at the lead due to empty possessions on the Marquette offensive end.
Out of sync and definitely out of rhythm, Marquette would end up shooting just 5-31 (16%) from downtown for the game, and at times, abandoned their success in the paint, an advantage they still won 36-22. Kam Jones, one of the best pure shooters in the Big East, overshadowed his own career milestone by going a dismal 1-10 from three, losing his touch from the first half that got him to 1000 career points. Tyler Kolek’s midseason struggles continued with a season low 2 points on 1-13 shooting. Teams have done a good job of closing off Kolek’s patented drives into the paint, and the same went for Butler on Wednesday, putting frustration into the All American point guard.
With Marquette’s sixth-man Chase Ross on the shelf with a shoulder injury, playing time has been freed up for others, and none took more advantage on Wednesday night than freshman guard Zaide Lowery. Zaide scored 7 points in 13 minutes, but more importantly, hit a timely three at the time and made a what seemed to be momentum-shifting steal and dunk. When we asked head coach Shaka Smart about Zaide’s increased role at the post-game presser, Shaka said, “He should’ve played more, the way he played. …sometimes in moments like this you try to give certain veteran guys a chance to respond and show who they really are, but I thought (Zaide) had better energy than a lot of the guys that played more.”
That more might be coming sooner than later after sophomore guard Sean Jones went down with a seemingly serious knee injury when he planted on a drive to the basket. Jones went to the floor in immediate pain, holding his right knee as a hush fell over the arena. Shaka Smart and trainers ran out to the floor, and after a long couple of minutes, Jones was assisted straight to the locker room, not able to put any weight at all on the injured knee. An MRI will follow, but no official update has been given as of the time of this writing. *Tests confirmed a torn ACL and Jones is out for the season.
Marquette drops to 11-5 on the year and 2-3 to open up Big East Conference play. A certain low for the Golden Eagles so far this season sees them saddled with their first home loss of the season, their first back-to-back losses of the season, a shooting slump from key contributors, and injuries to two key cogs in the backcourt. Marquette lost more than just the game on Wednesday. They lost Sean Jones, the momentum in Big East play, and some of the confidence that surrounded their hot start. Marquette is down to nine active scholarship players and will need some help off the bench to rally and regroup around Shaka to push past the murkiness of the 2023-24 midseason.
Marquette gets their next shot on Monday as they host a matinee with Villanova at Fiserv Forum at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.