Marquette looks for first away game win in BIG EAST play at Seton Hall

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Marquette looks for first away game win in BIG EAST play at Seton Hall

Markus Howard (0) looks for a teammate in Seton Hall's 81-79 victory over Marquette in the 2019 BIG EAST Semifinals March 15 at Madison Square Garden.

Markus Howard (0) looks for a teammate in Seton Hall's 81-79 victory over Marquette in the 2019 BIG EAST Semifinals March 15 at Madison Square Garden.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Markus Howard (0) looks for a teammate in Seton Hall's 81-79 victory over Marquette in the 2019 BIG EAST Semifinals March 15 at Madison Square Garden.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Markus Howard (0) looks for a teammate in Seton Hall's 81-79 victory over Marquette in the 2019 BIG EAST Semifinals March 15 at Madison Square Garden.

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Marquette heads to the Prudential Center Saturday to take on Seton Hall at 3 p.m. Central Standard Time after the team’s first loss at Fiserv Forum Tuesday night, falling to Providence 81-80 in overtime.

“The BIG EAST doesn’t get any easier,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “(Seton Hall) is one of the best teams in the country. They’re terrific and it’s going to be as big a task, as big a challenge as we’ve had all season.”

The Pirates have not lost in 2020 and are tied with Providence for first in the league with a 3-0 record. The team is 6-1 at home. In the latest Associated Press poll, Seton Hall received 48 votes, while Marquette received 25. The Pirates are on a five-game win streak with their last loss coming at Rutgers Dec. 14, falling 68-48. According to the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) team sheet, Seton Hall’s NET ranking is 22 and the Pirates have gone 3-1 against Quadrant Two opponents. The Golden Eagles have a NET ranking of 35, making them a Quadrant Two opponent because the game is at the Prudential Center.

Seton Hall is coming off an 83-71 victory at Xavier Wednesday, handing the Musketeers its first home loss which ended the team’s 13-game home win streak. Senior guards Myles Powell and Quincy McKnight accounted for a combined 39 points with Powell grabbing nine boards and McKnight tallying eight assists. Sophomore Jared Rhoden had a career-high night with 16 points, shooting 6-for-10 from the field. The Pirates shot 53% from the field and 33% from 3-point range, while holding the Musketeers to 44% overall. Seton Hall finished with 19 assists.

Meanwhile, Marquette received its first loss at Fiserv Forum after a 81-80 loss to Providence in front of over 14,000 fans. The Golden Eagles have yet to win on the road in conference play, having lost to Creighton Jan. 1. This is the Golden Eagles’ fifth Quadrant One opponent and second in conference. Marquette was led by a 39-point effort from the nation’s leading scorer. Markus Howard set the career field goals made record with his 727th coming with 1:36 remaining in the firsts half, passing Jerel McNeal. Brendan Bailey added 19 points, including a 3-pointer that gave MU the lead with 18 seconds remaining.

Seton Hall returns all but Michael Nzei from last year’s team that went 20-14 overall and 9-9 in conference play. In the 2018-’19 season, the Pirates made the NCAA Tournament, but lost 84-68 to then-No. 19 Woffoord in the first round. Nzei is the only player Seton Hall lost to graduation after last season. As a senior, the 6-foot-8 forward set career highs in single-season scoring in rebounding, finished second-best on the team with 178 rebounds, had the Pirates’ best shooting percentage of 60.2% and his 88 wins is tied for third-most in school history. The Makurdi, Nigeria, native was named the 2019 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year and to the 2018 Wooden Legacy All-Tournament First Team.

Powell, SHU’s leading scorer and last season’s unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team honoree, returns for his senior season. This year, the AP Preseason All-America guard is averaging a team-high 21.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He is second in the BIG EAST for scoring and 3-pointers made and 17th in the NCAA for points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard also has 31 assists and 17 steals, shooting 41% from the field. Powell is on the 2019-’20 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Watchlist. In his career, he has scored 1,941 points in 114 games, which is seventh on the all-time scoring leaderboard. The Trenton, New Jersey, native is third all-time with 310 3-pointers made.

“His growth and improvement as a player over the course of his time at Seton Hall has been really fun to watch. Although, it’s not fun to play against,” Wojciechowski said.

Howard, reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year and Powell, the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year, are fighting for the honor of league’s best player.

“They’re two elite players who have had historic careers at their universities,” Wojciechowski said. “For the BIG EAST to have two guys that are in the position to be First Team All-Americans and potentially National Player of the Year, is great for our league.”

McKnight leads the team with 72 assists, 24 steals and shooting 86% from the free-throw line. Senior center Romaro Gill has a team-high 47 blocks and averages 6.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

“Boy, (Gill’s) a game changer,” Wojciechowski said. “You can’t drive in there and think you’re going to score over top of (him). You’re not, and teams that have tried to have had no success. You have to be really smart when he’s in the game.”

The Pirates have to play without Sandro Mamukelashvili due to a fractured right wrist in the team’s 76-66 loss to Iowa State. Prior to his injury, the forward started in all nine games, shooting 43.5% from the field, averaging 10.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Seton Hall gained forward Tyrese Samuel as the lone first-year player. Samuel averages 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. He adds five assists, two steals, four blocks and shoots 40% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc.

Fun Facts

  • Seton Hall’s four nonconference losses came to then-No. 3 Michigan State, then-No. 11 Oregon, Iowa State and the Rutgers. They ended 8-4 prior to league play.
  • This is the fourth time in history the Pirates have started 3-0 in BIG EAST play. The other seasons were 2017-’18, 1998-’99 and 1992-’93.
  • The Pirates were picked to win the conference in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll. They ended Villanova’s five-year streak of being the league favorite and it is first time since 1992-’93 they were selected at the top of the poll.
  • SHU is 93-13 since 2015-’16 when the scoring margin gets to seven or more points. This season, the Pirates have led by at least seven points in all 11 of their wins.
  • Seton Hall leads the league with 6.3 blocks per game. The Pirates have 94 total blocks in 14 games. Marquette is at 71 total blocks in 15 games, averaging 4.7 per game.

A Look Back

  • Marquette leads the all-time series 19-9. Seton Hall leads the series 8-3 in South Orange, New Jersey.
  • All but one of the matchups between the two teams have come after MU joined the BIG EAST in 2005-’06.
  • In the Golden Eagles’ first-ever appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, the Pirates opened the series with a 96-78 victory over Marquette on March 17, 1956. The next meeting didn’t happen until 50 years later.
  • The teams have met four times in the BIG EAST Tournament with MU winning in 2008 and 2015. Seton Hall beat Marquette 82-76 in the 2017 Quarterfinals and 81-79 in a crazy 2018 Semifinals. In the latest matchup, the No. 3-seeded Pirates beat the No. 2-seeded Golden Eagles with both teams combining to shoot 85 free throws.
  • Wojciecchowski is 6-7 all-time against Seton Hall. Under 10-year head coach Kevin Willard, the Pirates are 8-12 against the Golden Eagles.

Key Players

  • Powell paces Seton Hall’s offense with 21.4 points per game and is 15th with 1.3 steals per game.
  • Rhoden ranks ninth in the league with 6.1 rebounds per game and eighth with 1.46 steals per game.
  • Howard leads the BIG EAST and NCAA with 26.8 points per game. His 39 points Tuesday was the sixth time this season and 23rd time in his career the 5-foot-11 guard has reached the 30-point mark.
  • Koby McEwen leads the conference shooting 88% from the free-throw line. He has gone 54-for-61 this season, including 10-for-13 against Villanova.
  • Brendan Bailey leads the Golden Eagles with 5.1 rebounds per game. He finished second behind Howard with 19 points in Tuesday’s loss.

Keys to the Game

  • Marquette: Contain Powell, who was named BIG EAST Player of the Week Jan. 6 for the second time this season, averaging 21 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in wins over DePaul and Georgetown after missing two games in concussion protocol. Take advantage of the 3-point game, MU ranks first in the league shooting 40.5% and holding opponents to 29.7% from deep.
  • Seton Hall: Continue defensive prowess as the Pirates rank 10th in KenPom for defensive efficiency ratings. Seton Hall has held every opponent below their season scoring average and teams have scored 10 or more points below their season scoring average in six of SHU’s 11 wins this year. Keep spreading the floor as the Pirates have 14.5 assists per game, compared to 11.2 for their opponents.

“It’s not going to come down to a one-on-one battle,” Wojciechowski said. “Emotion can feed execution or emotion can destroy execution. … Our guys need to use whatever emotion they have to feed execution, because we’re going to have to have nearly flawless execution to be in a position to beat Seton Hall at Seton Hall.”

 

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