Marquette Wire

Floor slaps: Golden Eagles blow golden opportunity in Indy

Markus Howard scored a career-high 26 points in Marquette's 88-80 loss to Butler.

Markus Howard scored a career-high 26 points in Marquette's 88-80 loss to Butler.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Markus Howard scored a career-high 26 points in Marquette's 88-80 loss to Butler.

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Starting on the right foot

Everything went right for Marquette in the first half. Seriously, everything. The Golden Eagles led by 16, they grabbed four more rebounds than Butler, assisted four more baskets, went 7-for-15 from 3-point range, had just three fouls, just three turnovers and all nine players contributed at least five minutes. It was hands down Marquette’s best half of basketball this season.

Second half meltdown

Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton must have enjoyed this game, because everything that went right for Marquette went wrong for them in the second half. Butler outscored the Golden Eagles by 24 points, brought down nine more rebounds, assisted three more buckets, went 4-for-5 from 3-point range, had eight less fouls than Marquette and did not turn the ball over once.

“They were more ready to play in the second half,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “We played really well in the first half so we put Butler in a position of adversity. When they met adversity they turned it up on the defensive end. … When we met adversity, we were hoping we would make a shot. Hope is not a strategy.”

Howard you going to stop him

Markus Howard played the generous teammate Saturday, getting in foul trouble early, which set up Andrew Rowsey to shine. But Howard took the spotlight right back in Monday’s showdown with No. 13 Butler. The freshman scored Marquette’s first seven points on his way to 16 in the first half.

“That was probably one of the best halves we have played,” Howard said.

Kamar Baldwin stepped up in the second half for Butler and caused problems for Marquette’s offense, limiting Howard’s second half totals. However, he still ended up with a season-high 26 points.

“Looking back, all I’m thinking is how we clicked as a team. We just need to translate that to a full 40-minute game,” Howard said.

Matt Heldt, defensive specialist?

Butler went on a 6-0 run early in the second half to cut Marquette’s lead to 11 points, prompting a Marquette timeout. After the timeout Matt Heldt entered the game as a defensive substitution for Luke Fischer — surprising no one.

“Matt has such a big heart and he’s a winner,” Howard said. “He’s big for us whenever he’s on the court. We’re going to continue to look for him to produce big minutes for us.”

In the first half Heldt played just five minutes, but he was a reliable presence down low, altering shots around the rim without fouling. In the first six BIG EAST games Heldt’s defensive contributions have become the norm.

Full rotation

Marquette threw an array of different looks at Butler by using a full rotation and subbing frequently. Sam Hauser saw a chunk of minutes at center, Heldt was steady, Rowsey and Howard played together, as well as the trio of Jajuan Johnson, Katin Reinhardt and Hauser.

“It’s very important (having a full rotation),” Howard said. “Because if you have foul trouble like today, it’s going to happen throughout the season. Just to have different guys ready at different positions is very important for us and we work at it in practice to have different lineups.”

Best stat line

Markus Howard: 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, two rebounds

Stat of the night

Butler scored 63 points in the second half.

“I don’t care what conference you play in. What league. What level. If you give up 63 points in a half, you are not winning,” Wojciechowski said.

Up next

Marquette travels to Omaha Saturday to take on the No. 7 Creighton Bluejays. This could be the toughest game left on the Golden Eagles’ schedule, but BIG EAST Player of the Year candidate Mo Watson Jr. left Monday’s game against No. 22 Xavier with a potentially season-ending injury.

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