PREVIEW: Sharing the ball, stopping Martin key for Marquette against Butler

Butler+has+won+the+last+three+games+they%27ve+played+against+Marquette.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Butler has won the last three games they've played against Marquette.

Eight of Marquette’s 13 players were still in high school the last time Marquette defeated Butler.

Those eight will need to step up as Marquette hosts the Bulldogs Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Here are a few things to watch:

Tipoff is at 8 p.m. Central time and will be on FOX Sports 1. The Marquette Wire will also have a radio broadcast available at marquettewire.org/listen.

 

STOPPING MARTIN

The previous time these teams squared off, Marquette had a relatively comfortable 67-60 lead with about 10 minutes left. Then Butler senior Kelan Martin took over, scoring 16 points in the final seven minutes to secure a 94-83 Bulldog victory.

Three weeks later, Martin remains a matchup nightmare for the Golden Eagles. The 6-foot-7 senior is fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring and ninth in scoring. He also has scored in double figures in 20 of Butler’s 22 games entering Wednesday.

Butler is undefeated when Martin scores 15-plus points against an unranked foe.

Much of Martin’s success from the first matchup involved driving on inferior Marquette defenders, leading to easy opportunities near the rim. The Bulldogs outscored Marquette 60-28 in the paint.

As one of the statistically shortest teams in the country, this has been a consistent issue for the Golden Eagles. Marquette has been outscored in the paint in seven of nine BIG EAST contests.

 

MORE THAN JUST HOWARD

The only player to score more than Martin in a single BIG EAST game this year is Markus Howard, who has put up a program-record 52 points against Providence and 37 against Villanova.

“What makes (Howard) effective is he doesn’t miss a ton,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said a few weeks ago on the BIG EAST conference call. “A lot of players, really good players, when you miss an assignment or you’re not there on arrival with the ball, they may miss a shot here or there.”

This creates quality shot opportunities for teammates like senior Andrew Rowsey and sophomore Sam Hauser.

“They’re paying a lot of attention to (Howard), so it opens up a lot of things for guys like me,” Hauser said after the Butler game. “It gives a lot of other people opportunities.”

But Howard’s teammates have not always been able to take advantage of those opportunities. When Howard accounts for at least 15 percent of the team’s scoring, Marquette is 2-4.

This will be especially important against one of the few teams that has successfully shut down the conference’s leading scorer and 3-point shooter. In the first matchup, Howard was kept off the scoreboard until the second half.

“(Kamar Baldwin) did a great job individually and then their team had great floor awareness as well,” Wojo said after the 94-83 loss. “And we probably missed him sometimes.”

With only four regular season games left against teams ranked in the top 60 of KenPom, a prominent college basketball analytics site, Marquette cannot afford to miss him again Wednesday night.