Howard flawless in first half, leads Marquette past Southern
Howard is hitting 3s in transition. He’s making 1-on-1 moves to free himself for open looks. He’s hitting 3s off curls.
The high-scoring junior had 23 of his 26 points in the first half, and the 18th-ranked Golden Eagles overpowered Southern for an 84-41 win on Friday night.
Howard was 8 for 8 from the field in the opening half, including 5 of 5 on 3-pointers. He scored all of Marquette’s points during a 15-2 run midway through the first, capping the stretch with back-to-back 3s for a 35-14 lead with 7:46 left.
The first 3 came after defender Brendon Brooks slipped while Howard took a jab-step to free himself for the jumper.
“When he’s going like that, obviously just get out of the way,” teammate Sacar Anim said. “Just let him do his thing, just keep feeding him the ball.”
The Golden Eagles (11-2) won their eighth straight game, their longest streak since 2015-16. It was the perfect tuneup before their level of competition picks up next week with the start of Big East play.
Howard, who averages 25.0 points, was needed for just five minutes in the second half. In Marquette’s last game, a win over Buffalo last week, Howard scored 40 points in the second half after shooting 8 of 10 from beyond the arc.
“He’s having an incredible shooting run here,” coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
Southern (1-12) was no match, as expected for a team that was allowing 83.8 points per contest. The Jaguars left shooters open consistently, and they couldn’t keep up with the Golden Eagles in transition, where they were outscored 30-2.
The good news for the Jaguars is that they move on to Southwestern Athletic Conference play next.
“Thank God we’re headed into the league, where we can play at our level a little bit,” coach Sean Woods said. “Now it’s time to see where we really are.”
Sidney Umude had 10 points for Southern, which was held to 26 percent shooting (14 of 54).
Sam Hauser added 10 points and nine rebounds for Marquette.
Southern: Trailing 48-17 at the half, Southern was dominated in early every important statistical category including points off turnovers (22-6) and rebounds (53-25). At least credit the undersized team for showing fearlessness with the ball, driving the lane to try to create offense. It rarely worked, though, as players missed while trying to make off-balance shots over Marquette’s bigger interior defenders.
“What we’re looking or right now is competing, and we did in stretches,” Woods said.
Marquette: This game resembled a preseason scrimmage after about the 11-minute mark of the first half, when Howard went on his personal 15-2 run. With the margin in the 40s for much of the second half, Wojciechowski could afford to give key players ample rest.
Woods said injuries have hampered his team in nonconference play, forcing him to use a lot of walk-ons. It’s not an ideal situation going into a road game against a ranked opponent.
The game was so lopsided that walk-on guard Cam Marotta, a fan favorite, played the final four minutes for Marquette, making a 3 with 9 seconds left for the game’s final points. One of Marotta’s main jobs in practice is to guard Howard.
“I thought we were going to have a court-storm when Cam hit that 3,” Wojciechowski said.
Southern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Jan. 5.
Marquette: Visits St. John’s on Tuesday in its Big East opener.