Hoopcap: Markus Howard’s Major Performance Carries Marquette
Marquette needed a win. Everyone knew it. The players, the fans, the coaches. They responded in a major way jumping out to a 21-2 run against then 23-ranked Xavier and it carried them all game long with an 81-63 win as they continue to make their case for the right side of the bubble. Marquette has wins against three of the top four Big East teams this season. It was an electrifying performance led by Markus Howard, and one we haven’t seen from them since Villanova. It’s good to see the mojo came back for National Marquette Day, and let’s hope it carries over to Tuesday night.
Markus breaks through that wall
It was clear to anyone that Markus Howard hit the proverbial freshman wall. In his last several games, Howard gained all his points from deep and had some issues with driving it to the lane as well as turnovers. It looked like Howard finally became a freshman until Saturday night. He emerged from the wall like a phoenix with 34 points with a record-tying nine three-pointers. Howard played great, and if he stays hot down the stretch, Marquette’s bubble chances look better.
Marquette’s hot start carries them all game
Not many games will a team start out on a 21-2 run. But that’s how Golden Eagles got going with a drunken crowd of students and alumni. With the help of a few technicals that Xavier didn’t deserve, Marquette pushed the lead out early. Andrew Rowsey hit two big threes and started the positive vibes early on. They threw the arena in a frenzy, and it was one of its loudest crowds in the Steve Wojciechowski era. A case has been made for Saturday night games, or even, the 4:00 or 5:00 o clock start.
Still don’t know how they kept Xavier at length’s distance with big men foul trouble
One of the more interesting things about this game is Matt Heldt and Luke Fischer both had severe foul trouble for most of the game. Xavier crawled back to 10 points at halftime, but Howard’s hot shooting prevented them from getting closer. If Howard did not have that type of night, Musketeers may have took full advantage of the lack of big men for Marquette.
Lineup changed worked, but will it continue?
Coach Wojciechowski switched Marquette’s starting five taking Haanif Cheatham, Luke Fischer and Jajuan Johnson out of the lineup. It was a wholesale change that not many expected. Johnson didn’t play against Xavier in what appears to be a ‘coach’s decision.’ If it’s not broke, don’t fix for Marquette. Wojo needs to ride this starting lineup a little bit although I may consider putting Fischer in there for the offense. Heldt did play great with six points and nine rebounds, but he’s foul-prone. Duane Wilson only scored once but he played his ass off out there. He’s a great glue guy for this team.
Players of the game: Markus Howard (Marquette), Rashad Gaston (Xavier)
Next Up: Marquette welcomes a St. John’s team who beat them a couple weeks ago. I would expect a lot of 2-3 zone in this game as that worked for Golden Eagles down the stretch in the last meeting. Johnnies haven’t been great on the road, and they took one on the chin last time out giving up 110 points to Butler.