Milwaukee, WI – Energized by the play of 6-11 sophomore Luke Fischer, a mid-season transfer from Indiana playing his first game in a Marquette uniform, the Golden Eagles jumped out to a 43-32 halftime lead and withstood a late Arizona State comeback to defeat the Sun Devils, 78-71 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
Fischer played 33 minutes off the bench and filled up the state sheet scoring 19 points, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds and blocking a team-high five shots.
“It was an incredibly impressive performance,” said Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski of Fischer’s play. “Luke has not played a prominent role in any college game in his life, but he gave us a terrific spark tonight.”
“I had some jitters at first, but after I bobbled that first pass, I settled in and just played basketball,” said Fischer. “It feels great. I don’t know if it could have gone any better.”
“Fischer’s stat line was very impressive,” said Arizona State Coach Herb Sendek. “We were well aware of him. Whether we had an answer for him or not is another question.”
Fischer was highly efficient scoring on the low block. He made nine of eleven shots frequently backing down his defender and scoring with jump hook shots with his right and left hands. “Luke’s been well coached and he played with great poise in the low post,” said Wojciechowski.
The Marquette coach also lauded Fisher’s play on the defensive end of the court. “This was the best our man-to-man defense has been all year and Luke had a big hand in that,” said Wojciechowski. Not only did Fisher record five blocks, the most by a Marquette player since the 2004-05 season, he also discouraged and altered many other shots and made scoring in set offense problematic for the Sun Devils.
A product of Germantown High School, about 30 miles north of Milwaukee, Fischer signed with Indiana and played the first semester of his freshman season last year with the Hoosiers, coached by former Marquette coach Tom Crean. “As soon as I left home, I didn’t understand why I went away,” said Fischer. “Coach Wojo is the real deal; I hope he’s here forever.”
Fischer got plenty of offensive help from fellow sophomore Jujuan Johnson and redshirt freshman Duane Wilson. When he was not scoring at the rim, Johnson had his mid-range game going and finished with ten field goals in 16 attempts. “Jujan had his best week of practice. Funny how good practice translates into a good game,” said Wojciechowski.
Wilson, who scored 30 points in a November victory over Tennessee that included five field goals from distance, shifted into attack mode against Arizona State driving the ball to the basket with mostly good results. A right-hand dominant player, Wilson suffered an injured right hand as a youth that sped up the development of his left hand. Using both hands to shoot around the rim, Wilson was fouled repeatedly, went to the free throw line 17 times and made nine shots.
Johnson and Wilson spearheaded Marquette’s effort on the defensive end of the court, each recording three steals. “We were active with deflections and steals and took them out of their rhythm offensively,” said Wojciechowski. “We had six turnovers by the first media time out and ten in the first half,” said Sendek. “Those led to a lot of transition opportunities.”
Arizona State was led by junior Gerry Blakes, a wiry wing who knocked down four of eight shots from behind the three-point arc. A left-handed shooter with true rotation, Blakes walked into a number of three-point shots and showed a nice pull-up shot from mid-range going to his left.
Marquette improved to 5-4 with the victory and continues its five-game home stand with a December 19 game against Alabama A&M. Arizona State saw its record fall to 6-4 with the loss and returns to Tempe to face Lehigh on December 20.
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