LAHAINA, Hawaii -- Jamil Wilson channeled his inner aloha spirit to lead Marquette to a strong finish Wednesday after a tough start to the Maui Invitational. But the Golden Eagles lost their leading scorer, Vander Blue, when he injured his knee late in the game.
Wilson turned in a colorful 19-point performance in Marquette's 72-64 win over USC, making 7 of 9 field goals off the bench and throwing up Hawaii's famous shaka sign each time he hit a 3-pointer.
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Blue was injured late after scoring only six points despite taking the most shots on his team.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said the team would try to figure out Blue's injury in the hours after the game.
"The one doctor here said he didn't tear his ACL -- that it probably was twisted -- but that's not confirmed," Williams said.
Blue averaged 19.5 points per game heading into the contest, scoring 21 against Butler in Marquette's Maui opener and 18 against Mississippi State -- both team highs. But he was just 3 for 11 from the floor against USC.
After being down 39-27 at halftime, J.T. Terrell made a 3-pointer to pull USC within one point with 14 minutes left. Wilson responded on Marquette's next possession with a 3-pointer of his own from the top of the key, then stared into the crowd while skipping backward across the floor, waving his shaka sign in the air with his right hand. Wilson then rebounded USC's next shot, starting a transition that led to a layup by Junior Cadougan and a 51-45 lead, sending Wilson and the traveling Marquette fans into screams.
The Trojans got no closer than six points after that.
"I think what was really working for us today was the penetrating and moving without the ball," Wilson said.
Davante Gardner added 12 points for the Golden Eagles (4-1), Cadougan had 11 and Chris Otule scored 10.
J.T. Terrell had 21 points for USC (3-2). Byron Wesley added 12 points while Eric Wise had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Marquette finished fifth in the eight-team tournament, its only loss a buzzer-beater to Butler.
Williams said Marquette didn't linger on that loss.
"We have a short memory. We celebrate victories until midnight and we mourn losses until midnight," he said. "Then we have got to wake up when the sun comes up the next day and go to work. I have said that since I have been employed here."
The Trojans made eight baskets in the first half. Marquette shot 48.4 percent (15 of 31) in the half, steadily building a 12-point margin mostly in the last 10 minutes.
Wilson, tied for fourth in scoring on his team heading into the game, clearly had fun.
In the game's final minute, Wilson drove into the lane and tried to dish a behind-the-back pass to Gardner, smiling sheepishly when it went out of bounds and asking the referees if there had been a foul.
"Why didn't you shoot?" Marquette coach Buzz Williams shouted from the bench at Wilson.
The win was Williams' 100th at Marquette. He is in his fifth year at the school, a run that includes two Sweet 16 appearances and four NCAA tournaments.
Williams said he's thankful that the coaches, players and their parents have trusted him to guide them on and off the court.
"I am very thankful for the administration for having enough guts to hire an unpolished, unproven assistant coach," Williams said.
USC coach Kevin O'Neill coached Marquette from 1989 through 1994.
Both teams won second-round games on Tuesday. Marquette lost 72-71 to Butler on a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to open play on Monday, then beat Mississippi State on Tuesday. USC opened its tournament losing to Illinois by 30 points, then beating Texas in overtime.