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Three takeaways: Marquette becomes No. 14 Buffalo’s first loss of 2018-’19

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Three takeaways: Marquette becomes No. 14 Buffalo’s first loss of 2018-’19

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

Photo by Tom Hillmeyer

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Markus Howard’s 45-point performance against the No. 14 Buffalo Bills Friday night was the obvious storyline in Marquette’s 103-85 win, but here are three other takeaways from the Golden Eagles’ sixth straight rout:

 

Sophomore big man has career-high night

Take away Markus Howard’s second 45-point performance this month, and the focus might have been on sophomore forward Theo John’s career-high seven blocks.

“(During) his transition from freshman to sophomore year, I think he’s made the most improvement out of anybody I’ve seen,” Howard said. “Tonight alone, seven blocks, that’s unheard of. … He could have a double-double with blocks alone.”

His seven blocks were more than the whole Bulls’ roster, who tallied a combined five blocks.

“Theo did a tremendous job of bailing us out on a number of occasions when we got beat off the dribble,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.

But John didn’t just have an outstanding defensive night. He also added six points, nine rebounds and three assists.

“I’m glad he’s on our side,” Howard said.

Wojciechowski quickly said he agreed from the back of the interview room.

 

Golden Eagles out-rebound the Bulls

Buffalo is a team known for its rebounding prowess, averaging 40.5 rebounds per game while limiting opponents to 35.8 rebounds per game.

However, Marquette out-rebounded the Bulls 48-34.

“The fact that we got out-rebounded by 14, that speaks to our toughness, our effort,” head coach Nate Oats said. “(Our rebounding is) why we got to 14th in the country.”

Oats has instilled a blue-collar mentality in his players, making it a key part of the team’s identity.

“We out-rebounded Syracuse by 13. That’s how we won at the (Carrier) Dome,” Oats said. “For us to come in and get really outplayed at what we value, that’s the biggest thing I’m upset with after this game.”

 

Undefeated at Fiserv

With this win, the Golden Eagles extend their winning streak at Fiserv Forum to nine games. Buffalo is the third ranked team to lose at Fiserv Forum to the Golden Eagles.

Despite many students being home for break, the attendance Friday night was a Fiserv Forum record of 17,567 people. This breaks the previous record of 17,515 fans at the in-state rivalry game against Wisconsin Dec. 8.

“I didn’t know what to expect from a fan response,” Wojciechowski said. “It may have been our best crowd all year. … I feel real lucky to be on the Marquette team today.”

 

Stat of the night: Despite only scoring five points in the first half, Howard’s 40 points in just the second half is a career-best for the junior guard in a 20-minute span. His previous best was 32 at Providence Jan. 3, when he set the program record of 52 points in a game.

Quote of the night: “Around the country we’ve been a question mark about who we are as a team,” Howard said. “I’ve been stressing to our guys that we’re a great team and we do belong among the best in the country. So we’re going to continue to stay humble and work as hard as we can and take it one day at a time. Just try to win each and every day.”

Up next: The Golden Eagles (10-2) host the Southern University Jaguars Dec. 28 at Fiserv Forum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.

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