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Howard scores 45 to upset third ranked team in three weeks

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Howard scores 45 to upset third ranked team in three weeks

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

Jack Phillips

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For the third time in three weeks, junior guard Markus Howard put Marquette’s offense on his back to take down a top-15 team.

Friday night’s victim of the Markus Howard show was No. 14 Buffalo, as the Golden Eagles took down the Bulls 103-85 at Fiserv Forum.

“The emotions were so high,” Howard said. “I don’t really remember much of what was said. But I do remember just telling my guys, ‘We do belong here’ (on the national stage).”

He made history in the process, tying the program record he set three weeks ago for points in regulation and points at home with 45 points. He now has the three highest scoring totals in program history.

“It was an absolutely incredible performance,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “I’ve been really fortunate to see some incredible performances. His second half was I think as good of a half as I’ve seen.”

At halftime, it looked like Marquette needed to find a way to win without major contributions from Howard, who was 1-for-7 entering halftime with only five points and three fouls.

“It was a very disjointed half for Markus in the first half,” Wojciechowski said. “A guard that’s as good as any guard was out because of foul trouble, and then when he was in, he just wasn’t himself.”

Howard later admitted his legs “weren’t feeling the best,” adding to an already frustrating half.

“(The first half) was a little frustrating for me,” Howard said. “They really made things difficult for me. … I had to make adjustments.”

Despite the foul trouble, Wojciechowski said he trusted his star guard.

“I trust Markus,” Wojciechowski said. “We knew Markus in the second half was going to play better.”

After halftime, the junior guard went 8-for-10 from three against one of the best perimeter defenses in the country. He was 11-for-18 from the field.

At one point, he scored 10 points in a 70-second stretch, helping expand Marquette’s lead from 75-65 to 85-68.

“I can’t really explain what it was like in the second half,” Howard said. “I’m just so happy we pulled this one out.”

Buffalo’s defense could only hold back the Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team honoree for so long.

“He made tough shots,” Buffalo head coach Nate Oats said. “I should’ve started trapping him a long time before. We should’ve made some adjustments.”

Howard also took advantage of an aggressive Buffalo defense, going 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.

Howard did all of this despite not practicing this week after a minor injury against North Dakota Tuesday.

Howard is no stranger to this type of performance. He scored 45 points against No. 12 Kansas State Dec. 1, which caught Oats’ attention in scouting.

“We knew he was good,” Oats said. “I saw him score 45 against K-State. I didn’t think he’d do that against us.”

A week later, he scored 27 points to help Marquette take down No. 12 Wisconsin in Marquette’s first home win over UW since 2012.

Howard had some help Friday night from the Hauser brothers, who combined to score 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting.

After the Golden Eagles missed their first six 3-pointers, Sam Hauser sparked a 15-2 run with the team’s first trey at the 8:24 mark in the first half. The run included three 3-pointers from Joey Hauser.

“They’re guys that are very easy to trust on the floor,” Wojciechowski said. “Sam is as trustworthy of a player as I’ve been around, and Joey is really good. … When things were sputtering, those three threes were enormous.”

Wojciechowski’s squad took away Buffalo’s postgame, which has been one of the Bulls’ strengths throughout the season.

“They out-toughed us,” Oats said.

That included seven blocks from sophomore forward Theo John.

“His aggressiveness around the rim to protect our rim is vital to our team,” Howard said. “He’s our last line of defense. … I’m glad he’s on our side.”

Marquette will have a seven-day break for Christmas before hosting Southern University in the team’s final nonconference game. BIG EAST play begins Jan. 1 at St. John’s, who is receiving votes in the Associated Press Poll.

The Golden Eagles still haven’t lost at Fiserv Forum, but they aren’t necessarily dwelling on it.

“We have a lot to prove,” Howard said. “This was an unbelievable win for our program, but we know we have a long way to go to reach our full potential.”

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About the Contributors
John Steppe, Executive Sports Editor

John Steppe is the executive sports editor for the Marquette Wire. He is a junior majoring in journalism and double-minoring in digital media and Spanish....

Jack Phillips, Assistant Sports Producer

Jack Phillips is a sophomore in the College of Communications at Marquette University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Digital Media. He is currently...

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