McEwen, Golden Eagles overcome 18-point deficit to defeat Purdue

Redshirt+junior+guard+Koby+McEwen+finished+with+23+points+in+MU%27s+65-55+win+against+Purdue+Nov.+13+at+Fiserv+Forum.
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McEwen, Golden Eagles overcome 18-point deficit to defeat Purdue

Redshirt junior guard Koby McEwen finished with 23 points in MU's 65-55 win against Purdue Nov. 13 at Fiserv Forum.

Redshirt junior guard Koby McEwen finished with 23 points in MU's 65-55 win against Purdue Nov. 13 at Fiserv Forum.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Redshirt junior guard Koby McEwen finished with 23 points in MU's 65-55 win against Purdue Nov. 13 at Fiserv Forum.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Redshirt junior guard Koby McEwen finished with 23 points in MU's 65-55 win against Purdue Nov. 13 at Fiserv Forum.

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Almost anyone glancing at Marquette’s first half against Purdue Wednesday would hardly expect a Marquette win. Purdue rebounded half of its missed shots, and Marquette missed 10 of its last 11 shots in the half.

However, Koby McEwen and Markus Howard had different intentions.

The redshirt junior and senior guards combined for 28 second-half points to help the Golden Eagles capture a 65-55 win.

After trailing for the first 25-plus minutes of the game, including being down 18 earlier in the first half, McEwen hit a three to tie the game at 49-49.

Purdue quickly countered with a 3-pointer, but redshirt senior Sacar Anim then went on a 5-0 run to give Marquette a 54-52 lead.

“We blew the game,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “We should be up 20 points at halftime. We should’ve had the game at a distance.”

The Golden Eagles never relinquished the lead.

Meanwhile, MU locked down defensively, holding the Boilermakers without a field goal for the last six minutes of the game. McEwen attributed it to “locking into the game plan.”

“We defended their actions better in the second half, and we also rebounded the ball better,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.

Missed free throws also plagued the Boilermakers, who shot 42.9% from the free-throw line.

McEwen led the Golden Eagles with 23 points and four assists.

“Him being aggressive will open things up for other guys,” Wojciechowski said. “This was a heavyweight type of fight, and this was the first time he played a game like that in a Marquette uniform.”

Howard scored 18 points, which Painter considered a success.

“If you are going to come in here and play them and you can hold him to 18, that’s a good night,” Painter said.

McEwen and Howard combined for almost two thirds of the MU offense. Wojciechowski said the team needs more people to take on scoring roles this season.

“Who on our team is in the same role they were in last year besides Markus?” Wojciechowski said. “That’s the reality of it. … We have guys in new roles, and there’s going to be an evolution, and there’s going to be growth.”

“It can’t just be Markus shooting and then everyone else just watching,” McEwen said. “We have to be aggressive as well.”

Wojciechowski said he was “very proud” of Jamal Cain, who scored six points and seven rebounds while also making several key defensive plays.

“He just had bounce,” Wojciechowski said. “He made a lot of energy plays. He got a lot of 50-50 balls.”

It was a far different team in the first half, though. Marquette’s offense struggled to get anything going while getting overpowered in the post.

“The whole message (at halftime was), ‘We have to be tougher, we have to be more physical,’” McEwen said. “We have to hit guys on the block outs. We have to rebound. … Once we got the message, we went out and did it.”

No MU player had more than eight points in the half. Howard and junior Jamal Cain were the only players to have multiple field goals before intermission.

Purdue had as many offensive rebounds in the first half — 12 — as Marquette had on the defensive side. Purdue center Matt Haarms had eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and three rebounds. Four Boilermakers had at least three rebounds in the half.

Wojciechowski said the Golden Eagles struggled to “finish possessions with defensive rebounding.”

“Their offense is very difficult to guard because they’re in constant motion, and I thought their offense had us on our heels in the first half,” Wojciechowski said.

It was similar to Purdue’s 75-61 win over the Golden Eagles at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in 2017, when head coach Matt Painter relied on post player Isaac Haas to outmuscle the Golden Eagles.

Wojciechowski said he is “not concerned” with the team’s prior struggles against the Boilermakers, though.

“That has nothing to do with this group,” Wojciechowski said. “We’re focused on this year’s group, and this year’s group had a hell of a win against a hell of a program.”

Marquette will have another Big Ten challenge, visiting in-state rival Wisconsin on Sunday at noon. In the meantime, McEwen will enjoy the team’s statement win.

“We belong here,” McEwen said. “Just because we lost some guys last year doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be as good … We’re going to be better this year.”

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