Men’s basketball wins eighth consecutive BIG EAST game in 76-58 win over Butler

Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

No one needed to remind head coach Steve Wojciechowski of his team’s woes at Hinkle Fieldhouse entering Wednesday’s game at Butler. Marquette was 0-5 there in the first five years of the new BIG EAST.

“I love coming to Hinkle even though we usually get our brains beat in,” Wojciechowski said.

That trend changed Wednesday, as Marquette eased past Butler 76-58 at Hinkle Fieldhouse, marking the team’s first win at Hinkle since 1990 and second win against Butler in the Wojciechowski era.

“This one meant a lot more to us,” junior guard Markus Howard said.

The shooting for both teams was not much warmer than the sub-zero temperatures on Butler’s campus. Marquette started 3 for 12, and Butler started 3 for 16. The teams combined for six turnovers in the first three minutes.

Unlike Butler, Marquette picked up its shooting. Redshirt junior Ed Morrow grabbed a miss from freshman Joey Hauser and quickly put up a basket. That sparked the Golden Eagles’ offense for the rest of the game.

Marquette shot 67 percent from the field following Morrow’s offensive rebound after a 25 percent start.

Junior guard Markus Howard, who entered play as the BIG EAST’s leading scorer, spearheaded Marquette’s scoring barrage with 32 points on 14-of-23 shooting. All but four of those points came after Morrow’s offensive rebound.

Fellow junior Sam Hauser had a quiet first half but did not miss in the second half. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting, which includes 3-for-4 shooting on 3-pointers.

Redshirt junior Sacar Anim found success offensively after scoring 12 points in his previous three games combined. He had 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

“Sacar is an unbelivable player,” Howard said. “He is, in my opinion, one of the best two-way players in our conference. … He’s proven it.”

The Bulldogs shot 33 percent from the field and committed 12 turnovers, compared to six assists.

“Tonight was our best defensive game maybe all season,” Wojciechowski said. “We knew that if we wanted to put ourselves in a position to win the game, we were really going to have to play a really outstanding defensive game.”

“If we want to be a good team, we have to lock in on the defensive end,” Howard said. “We have a group of guys that have really bought into that process.”

Butler junior guard Kamar Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 15 points but did not do so very efficiently. He shot 5 of 15 from the field and committed four turnovers.

The Bulldogs entered play averaging nine 3-pointers per BIG EAST game, but Marquette held them to six on 23-percent shooting.

“They can really shoot and keep you on your toes,” Howard said. “We definitely had to keep our eye on them.”

The Bulldogs crept back into the game in the second half with a 9-0 run to cut Marquette’s lead to 51-45, but Marquette countered with a 12-0 run to remove any doubt.

“We’ve been in games like that where we’ve taken a lot of team’s best punches, and we were able to respond,” Howard said. “We just stuck with it. They went on a little run, but we didn’t panic at all.”

The win came despite several Marquette players navigating through foul trouble. Howard, Joey Hauser and Sam Hauser spent most of the second half with three fouls. Despite the team’s two leading scorers on the bench, Marquette kept Butler from mounting a serious run.

“That might have been the most critical time of the game,” Wojciechowski said. “We rely so heavily on Markus and Sam in so many ways. … I never go into a game thinking that at least one of those guys is not going to be on the court because of foul trouble. We were forced to do that.”

Marquette will have almost a week off before hosting St. John’s Feb. 5. The Golden Eagles lost by 20 to the Red Storm in their first matchup Jan. 1, but have not lost since.