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Guaranteed Win Night???
Word spread to the Marquette basketball headquarters Thursday afternoon that Jones did a “Joe Namath” by guaranteeing a win on the road against Marquette. They play the Golden Eagles Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT (Big East Network).
Last year in Tampa, Jones made a layup with 15.9 seconds left in regulation to upset then No. 8 Marquette 57-56 on Feb. 6. In his last five Big East games, Jones averaged 30 points.
He scored 46 points in the win over Providence and 28 in their Seton Hall victory. Jones lit up Pittsburgh for 37 points and Georgetown for 29, also victories. Their four-game winning streak ended with a loss to Notre Dame.
Jones was held to 10 points in that game. However, it was no doubt that Jones’ comments became bulletin board material, based on the reactions of several players and coach Buzz Williams.
“It was funny because in the weight room, when we were lifting (weights) with (Strength and conditioning coach) Todd (Smith), it kept getting brought up,” Junior forward Jimmy Butler said.
“We didn’t know anything about it, so we’re all like, ‘Why would (Jones) do this?’ If that’s what he thinks what’s going to happen, then that’s what he thinks.
We’re not going to let that faze us.”
Said senior guard Maurice Acker: “That just gets us motivated. People say what they want to say.” Acker was asked what Williams’ reaction would be if he or a teammate made a comment like Jones did towards an opponent. “He wouldn’t like that at all.”
“He’ll come and talk to us about it as soon as he hears it.”
Senior forward Lazar Haywood took the high road in response to Jones’ comment. “I didn’t know,” he said. “It’s probably just something he’s trying to do.
He’s just trying to inspire his team. It may not work.”
When asked if Jones’ statement was a form of arrogance or self-confidence, Haywood said, “False confidence doesn’t go too far.”
Williams dismisses the promise of a South Florida win by their leading scorer. “If I have time to worry about it, I’d be okay with it,” he said. “I’m just thankful to coach this team. I don’t want to try to coach another team.”
“He’s good enough to say what he wants to say.”
If one of Williams’ players offered bulletin board material to any of their opponents, he would philosophically handle it a different way. I think your true character is not only what you flee from but what you follow after,” he said.
“I am proud to say that I think that our guys follow after the right thing.”
The Golden Eagles enter Saturday’s game with a 15-8 overall record, including a 6-5 mark in the conference.
The Bulls are also 15-8 and 5-6 in league play. A win by Marquette will create some distance in the Big East race.
Jones is currently 11th in the nation in scoring, averaging 21.9 points per game. He’s projected as a first-round pick by several NBA scouts.
Marquette is seeking their fifth straight league win. Their signature wins at Connecticut and Providence and wins over Rutgers and DePaul are turning heads. They stand in eighth place in the Big East and South Florida ninth.
The Golden Eagles are 14-3 all-time against the Bulls.