Men’s basketball upsets No. 19 Butler on National Marquette Day

Markus+Howard+guarding+Butler%27s+Aaron+Thompson+in+the+Golden+Eagles%27+76-57+win+over+Butler+on+National+Marquette+Day+Sunday.+

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Markus Howard guarding Butler's Aaron Thompson in the Golden Eagles' 76-57 win over Butler on National Marquette Day Sunday.

Shane Hogan

Exactly a year after Marquette beat Villanova 66-65 in one of the most exciting National Marquette Day games, it was once again the defense that helped the Golden Eagles stun No. 19 Butler 76-57 Sunday afternoon.

“Our group really did a terrific job on the defensive end,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “Our defense has not been up to par, or at least up to what I believe our capabilities are. I’m proud of our guys that they were able to take what we did on the practice floor and translate it into a game situation against a terrific team.”

This year MU didn’t have to rely on a 38-point performance from the nation’s leading scorer, Markus Howard, for the victory. With Howard and Sacar Anim combining for just 25 points, it was sophomore forward Brendan Bailey and redshirt junior guard Koby McEwen who facilitated the Golden Eagles’ offense.

“They’re going to focus their defense around Markus, and that’s when everyone else has to step up. … We just have to be ready to shoot,” Bailey said. “Playing with a high-caliber player like Markus, there’s going to be open spots on the floor where we can find where we can relocate like we did today.”

Bailey tied McEwen with a team second-best 16 points. While Bailey shot 6-for-8 from the floor and contributed eight rebounds and four 3-pointers, McEwen shot 5-for-11 from the floor and dished out six assists.

“If this was prior to the bye week and you said, ‘Going into the game your two best and two most consistent players in Markus and Sacar would be 6-for-23, do you think you would have won the game?’ I probably would have a hard time answering ‘yes’ to that,” Wojciechowski said. “Tonight it was a total team effort. … Other guys really stepped up and made huge huge plays.”

Marquette got out to a slow start, trailing Butler 10-6 five minutes into the game. However, at the 8:26 mark, a huge block from sophomore forward Theo John sparked the Golden Eagles’ offense leading to a 6-0 run over 42 seconds and two consecutive 3-pointers for Bailey.

Though MU’s biggest lead of the first half was by 11 with 2:59 remaining in the first half, the Golden Eagles went into the break leading 34-26. Marquette shot 45% from the field and 5-for-14 from 3-point range in the first half, compared to the Bulldogs 38% from the field and 18% from downtown.

Butler went on multiple scoring droughts in the second half, but the Bulldogs never cut the Golden Eagles’ lead to below six points. Butler committed 19 personal fouls, and Marquette was able to score 21 points off free-throw shooting.

“I thought we were aggressive, and we just have to be able to finish and play through some of the physicality of the game,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said.

Though Butler tried to diminish its deficit, the Bulldogs just couldn’t finish at the rim due to the Golden Eagles’ defense. Butler went 11-for-28 from the field, shot 22% from three and trailed by double-digits for the majority of the second half.

“Ever since we’ve been little playing basketball, we know that defense wins games. We just have to always have that same mentality,” Bailey said.

The fans were fired up with 6:08 remaining in the game as Marquette was up 62-45 after three consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 1:18. MU shot 60% from beyond the arc in the second half.

“We had so many guys step up and make crucial plays. That group was phenomenal that was on the floor when we had that 9-0 run,” Wojciechowski said.

The Golden Eagles extended their lead to 20 with 2:42 remaining, and the Bulldogs couldn’t edge back into the game, eventually falling 76-57.

For Butler, Kamar Baldwin paced the Bulldogs’ offense with a game-high 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting and tied with Bryce Golden for a team-high six rebounds. In 34 minutes of play, Sean McDermott was held to two points from free throws and shot 0-for-5 from the floor.

The Golden Eagles are 12-1 at home this season, and though National Marquette Day was on a Sunday at 11 a.m., the crowd turnout was no different.

“National Marquette Day is always really special,” Wojciechowski said. “True to form, Marquette fans showed up and showed out, and it was as good a college basketball environment as any college basketball player could hope to play in. … We have really good kids, and they deserve a ton of support. Today, they got it.”

Bailey called the fans who came out for National Marquette Day the “X-factor.”

“When we have amazing fans in the student section going crazy, it just makes it that much more fun,” Bailey said.

Marquette (17-6, 7-4 BIG EAST) travels to Pennsylvania to face the No. 10 Villanova Wildcats Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. The Golden Eagles have now won six of their last seven games and are on a three-game win streak.

“There have been different things (working) in different games,” Wojciechowski said. “Today, I think the story of the game, when you’re talking about collectively, was our defense. There’ve been other games where we’ve been offensively really good and we’ve had different guys step up. We’ve won in a lot of different ways in a lot of different types of games.”

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