Marquette dominates Jacksonville despite absence of Howard

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Photo by Jordan Johnson

Sacar Anim had a team-high 19 points in the Golden Eagles' win vs. Jacksonville Dec. 4 at Fiserv Forum.

Jack Phillips

Without the nation’s leading scorer, the Golden Eagles still dominated the Jacksonville Dolphins 75-56 Wednesday night.

“Knowing that Markus wasn’t going to be playing, we knew that some guys were going to have to step up and make plays,” junior Jamal Cain said. “The whole two days we’ve been practicing, it’s just being confident, staying in the rhythm and just making sure we stay close to the game plan.”

Senior guard Markus Howard, who is averaging 26 points per game, missed his first game since the 2017-18 season due to concussion protocol, the team announced before Wednesday’s game.

“(He) banged his head when we got back from Florida,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “There’s strict guidelines with that. We just have to wait and see with the doctors and see what they say. I don’t know if he’ll be available for Kansas State or not.”

With Howard gone, Marquette had to rely on contributions from redshirt sophomore guard Greg Elliott and redshirt senior Sacar Anim, among others.

Anim finished with a game-high 19 points, which included 10 points in the first six minutes.

“He’s always been a good player,” junior Jamal Cain said. “In this type of setting, this is where he could show it. (We told) him, ‘Just play your game. … We got your back.’ So that gave him the confidence, just going out there and being himself.”

Elliott earned his first start in place of Howard since Feb. 24, 2018, and finished with seven points on 2-for-7 shooting in 31 minutes.

“The team’s happy to have him back,” Cain said. “Suffering that injury he had was just so unexpected. It’s sad because he just had an injury. For us seeing him back on the floor just gives us that extra confidence, gives us that extra passion.”

There was not much Jacksonville offense in the first half, as the Golden Eagles held the Dolphins to just 21% shooting from the field and 2-for-13 from 3-point range. MU had 13 assists, 26 rebounds and only five turnovers in the first half, which Wojciechowski said created an “edge.”

The second half was a much different story. The Dolphins outscored Marquette 33-29 in the second half.

“Our defensive numbers in the first half were terrific,” Wojciechowski said. “I thought we played with really good pace. I thought we competed defensively. The second half was pretty much the polar opposite, and so I’m disappointed in that.”

Redshirt junior Koby McEwen shot 1-for-8 from the field but hit all six free throws to finish with seven points. He had four fouls for the last 15 minutes of the game and fouled out at the 5:48 mark.

Post players Theo John, Ed Morrow and Jayce Johnson combined for 25 points in the win.

“When you get those type of numbers you’re talking about from the center position, that’s a positive thing,” Wojciechowski said. “You can see (Jayce) getting closer and closer to what he’s capable of. Obviously Ed’s a really good competitor, and Theo’s a very good player. I like what they’re doing, and we need them to continue to get better.”

Cain added a team-high 12 rebounds along with eight points off the bench.

“Jamal plays with energy. You can pretty much count on him to do that every time he’s on the floor,” Wojciechowski said. “When you play with energy and you play hard, you tend to put yourself in good positions.”

The Golden Eagles (6-2) travel to Manhattan, Kansas, to face the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

“We can’t just come out one half and play hard and not play hard the second half,” Cain said. “Staying locked in to the game plan and knowing that you have to play 40 minutes in order to win.”

 

This story was written by Zoe Comerford. She can be reached at isabel.comerford@marquette.edu or on Twitter @zoe_comerford.