Crowder's big game leads Marquette past UConn

Jae Crowder tied a career high with 29 points Odom added 24, leading 12th-ranked Marquette to a 79-64 victory over Connecticut at the XL Center.

Crowder also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Eagles (22-5, 11-3 Big East), who have won three straight and 10 of their last 11 games. Marquette was deadly from three-point range on Saturday, finishing 10-of-22, as both Crowder and Johnson-Odom each hit four from beyond the arc.

Connecticut (16-10, 6-8) was coming off an 80-54 win over bottom-feeding DePaul on Wednesday, but has now lost seven of its last nine games. Jeremy Lamb led the Huskies with 19 points.

The Huskies were again without head coach Jim Calhoun, as he continues to battle a back issue. Connecticut is just 2-3 in his absence and he is expected to miss at least Monday's game against Villanova.

UConn trailed by 16 late in the first half and by 14 at the intermission, but quickly trimmed that deficit to 48-44 just 4 1/2 minutes into the second half. After Alex Oriakhi's dunk created the four-point margin, Connecticut freshman Ryan Boatright was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul for trash talking.

The Eagles took full advantage, as Johnson-Odom drained both free throws and Crowder followed with a three-pointer on the ensuing possession.

"He [Boatright] didn't do it on purpose," UConn's Shabazz Napier said about Boatright's trash talking. "They were going at it the whole game. I always tell my guys, they never see the first one. They always see the second one."

Connecticut pulled within five soon after, but Crowder again hit from beyond the arc and the Huskies were never closer than seven from there.

"I thought the technical really changed the game," noted UConn acting coach George Blaney. "And we didn't recover from that very well."

Lamb's three-pointer had UConn within 70-62 with just under five minutes remaining, but Marquette followed with nine straight points to put it away. Johnson-Odom scored the last four to give the Eagles a comfortable 79-62 advantage.

"I thought Jae made some incredible, big threes in the second half, and I thought Darius was in an unbelievable groove, in the first half, from three," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams.

Three-point shooting was clearly the difference, especially in the first half.

Johnson-Odom and Crowder combined for 29 Marquette points in the first half to match UConn's total. The Eagles and Huskies each made 13 field goals during the opening 20 minutes, but Marquette connected on seven of its 13 three-point attempts and Connecticut went 0-for-2 from beyond the arc.

The first shot of the game for Marquette was an indication of things to come, as Johnson-Odom buried a three. The Eagles never trailed, but a transition layup by Tyler Olander had UConn down only 20-18 with just over nine minutes left in the first half.

Todd Mayo followed with a three-pointer to ignite an 18-6 Marquette run. Crowder scored seven to fuel the burst and Johnson-Odom canned a pair from long range, the second giving the Eagles a 38-24 cushion just 2 1/2 minutes before the break.

Another three from Johnson-Odom in the final minute made it a 16-point margin before Roscoe Smith's jumper sent Connecticut into the locker room down 43-29.

Game Notes

Crowder previously scored 29 points in a January 1, 2011 game against West Virginia...Mayo finished with 10 points for Marquette...Boatright and Oriakhi each scored 10 points for UConn, while Napier contributed 11 with eight assists...Marquette improved to 5-3 all-time against Connecticut...The Eagles will next host Rutgers on Wednesday.