Undefeated home record will be tested against Providence

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Markus Howard (0) scored 24 points in Marquette’s 79-68 win at Fiserv Forum Jan. 20 on Dwyane Wade Day.

Following Marquette’s first win over a top 10 team since 2017 Saturday, the Golden Eagles face the Providence Friars, a team who has yet to lose in BIG EAST play, Tuesday at 6 p.m. Central Standard Time.

The Friars have not yet lost in conference play and are tied for first place in the league with Butler and Seton Hall. However, they have the lowest win percentage in the BIG EAST at .600. Though Providence is on a three-game win streak, they have yet to face a NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) Quadrant One opponent this season. According to their NET team sheet, Florida was the highest ranked NET team they played. The Gators had a NET ranking of 52.

Providence is coming off a 66-65 thriller over DePaul at Wintrust Arena Saturday, giving the Friars their first road win of the season. Junior center Nate Watson was sent to the free-throw line with 0.1 seconds and missed the first free throw but knocked down the second for a Providence win. Senior guard Maliek White and graduate student guard Luwane Pipkins led the Friars with 16 points each, both going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Pipkins also recorded five rebounds and four assists.

Meanwhile, Marquette remains undefeated at Fiserv Forum after a 71-60 victory over No. 10 Villanova in front of a sold-out crowd. This was the Golden Eagles’ first BIG EAST victory of the season, coming to a team ranked 23 in NET rankings. According to MU’s team sheet, this was the Golden Eagles first Quadrant One win as they are 1-3 against Quadrant One teams, having lost to Maryland, Creighton and Wisconsin. Marquette was led by the nation’s leading scorer Markus Howard with a game-high 29 points with 17 of those in the first half. Koby McEwen added 22 points.

Providence returns all but three players from last year’s team that went 18-16 overall and 7-11 in conference play. In the 2018-’19 season, the Friars made the NIT Tournament but lost 84-72 to Arkansas in the first round. Isaiah Jackson is the only player Providence lost to graduation after last season. As a redshirt senior, he averaged 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season, finishing second-best on the team with 79 assists and 44 steals. The other two, Drew Edwards and Makai Ashton-Langford, transferred to University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Boston College, respectively. Edwards joins the 49ers as a graduate transfer, having averaged 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 104 games with Providence. Ashton-Langford averaged four points, 1.6 rebounds and two assists in 63 games with the Friars, ending two seasons in the BIG EAST with a 1.30:1 assist to turnover ratio.

The Friars’ leading scorer and last season’s All-BIG EAST Second Team honoree Alpha Diallo returns for his senior year. This season, he has averaged 13.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and a team-high 32 steals and 11 blocks, starting in all 15 games. The 6-foot-7 guard was named to the 2019 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team and is also one of 50 players named to the 2020 Naismith Trophy Watch List and Wooden Award Watch List. In his career, he has scored 1,361 points in 114 games, becoming the 50th player to score over 1,000 points. He is currently No. 22 all-time for scoring at Providence.

Providence gained forward Greg Gantt and guard Tommy Dempsey as first-year players. The Friars also added Pipkins, Noah Horchler and sophomore Jared Bynum as transfers. Horchler, a senior, and Bynum, a sophomore, will not be eligible until the 2020-’21 season. However, Pipkins, a 5-foot-11 graduate student, transferred from University of Massachusetts after averaging 15.7 points per game in his career as a Minuteman. Pipkins has started every game for Providence, averaging 9.9 points and three rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 67 assists and is second-best with 22 steals.

Fun Facts

  • Providence’s six nonconference losses came to Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, Long Beach State, College of Charleston, University of Rhode Island and Florida. They finished worst in the league with a nonconference record of 7-6.
  • As part of the BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle, PC beat the Texas Longhorns 70-48 at home Dec. 21, recording 52 rebounds. This was the first time since January 2013 that the team had 50 or more rebounds.
  • The Friars were picked fourth, tied with the Golden Eagles in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
  • Marquette is 8-0 at home. Providence is 1-2 on the road this season.
  • The Friars lead the conference with 17.1 assists per game and have 256 total assists. They have 146 steals, the most in the league.

 

A Look Back

  • Marquette leads the all-time series 19-9.
  • The Golden Eagles and Friars’ first meetings came at the 1963 and 1967 National Invitation Tournament. Providence won 70-64 in 1963, heading to the title game that year. Under legendary head coach Al McGuire, MU claimed the 81-80 overtime victory in 1967. Marquette finished as NIT runner ups in 1967.
  • Since MU joined the BIG EAST conference in 2005-’06 season, there have been 21 meetings between the two teams. The Golden Eagles have beat the Friars in 15 of them. Over the last 10 meetings, seven have been decided by five or less points, and there have been three games sent into overtime.
  • On Jan. 3 2018, Howard recorded a then-BIG EAST record of 52 points in a 95-90 overtime win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. This was the 5-foot-11 guard’s first 50-point performance of his career.
  • Steve Wojciechowski is 6-4 as Marquette head coach against Providence. In his nine seasons, the Friars’ head coach Ed Cooley is 5-9 against the Golden Eagles.

Key Players

  • Diallo leads the conference with 2.13 steals per game. He is sixth in the league in rebounding, but leads his team in both steals and rebounds.
  • Pipkins ranks sixth in the conference with 4.5 assists per game and the Friars are 8-2 when he records four or most assists.
  • Howard leads the BIG EAST and NCAA with 25.8 points per game. His 29 points Saturday was the seventh time this season and 55th time in his career he has reached at least 20 points.
  • McEwen leads the conference shooting 90% from the free throw line. He scored 22 points against Villanova, which is one shy of tying his career-high with Marquette. He went a season-high 10-for-13 from the charity stripe Saturday, including one block and two steals.
  • Theo John ranks fourth in the league with 2.07 blocks per game. He recorded four of MU’s seven blocks against Villanova Saturday, which was his seventh multi-block game of the season and his second highest block total since tallying eight in the season opener.

 

Keys to the Game

  • Marquette: Utilize the 3-point shot as the Golden Eagles are shooting 41% from beyond the arc, which is the highest in the BIG EAST. Additionally, MU’s defense must contain Diallo, who leads his team in almost every statistical category. He has posted a double-double in six of his team’s 15 games.
  • Providence: Force Marquette turnovers. The Friars are third in the BIG EAST with a +2.7 turnover margin and rank second with 9.7 steals per game. Other teams average 16.9 turnovers per game against Providence. Additionally, PC must spread the floor on offense as they have 256 total assists, compared to 189 from opponents.

 

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