Howard pours in 45 points to lead Marquette past No. 12 Kansas State
MILWAUKEE — Markus Howard kept attacking the bucket and getting to the foul line against one of the best defensive teams in the country to set Marquette records.
Imagine how good he might have been if he hadn’t been recovering from food poisoning.
Howard had 45 points, a Marquette record for a regulation game, and went a school-best 19 of 21 from the free-throw line, his aggressive play setting the tone for Marquette in an 83-71 victory over No. 12 Kansas State on Saturday.
Sacar Anim added 16 points for the Golden Eagles (6-2), who handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
“We knew they were going to be physical, so we wanted to attack them first,” Anim said.
Howard led the charge despite missing two days of practice because of illness. His 45 points were the most by a Marquette player since his 52-point game against Providence in overtime on Jan. 3.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll take it,” coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
Howard’s productive day from the field (11 of 17) helped Marquette overcome 20 turnovers. He drew a foul on a drive with 7:57 left to send Kansas State leading scorer Dean Wade (16.2 points) to the bench with five fouls and 11 points.
Marquette blew past an opponent that was seventh in scoring defense (56.3 points) and outrebounding teams by eight coming into the afternoon. Instead, the Golden Eagles held a 34-25 edge on the boards and had a double-digit lead most of the second half.
Kansas State (6-1) kept sending Howard to the foul line, too. One of Marquette’s primary ball-handlers, Howard drew 13 fouls but had one assist and five turnovers.
“We should have made him pass it and he didn’t,” Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. “We told guys at halftime, he had zero assists — make him pass the ball.”
Playing 35 minutes, Howard earned himself a good night’s sleep.
“I’m really tired. I’ve just got to rest, recover and get on to the next game,” he said. “We’re happy with this win but we have a lot more growing as a team.”
Kansas State: Barry Brown, the team’s second-leading scorer (15.7 points) and steals leader (13), was limited to nine minutes after picking up three fouls, including a technical, in a tightly called first half. Leading 20-17 at the time, the Wildcats were outscored 27-16 the rest of the half with Brown on the bench. Weber said losing Brown “changed the momentum of the game, but he’s got to keep his composure. In (the officials’) eyes, I guess he showed up the ref.”
Forward Xavier Sneed, who finished with 12 points, played only five minutes in the first after picking up two fouls.
Marquette: Howard scored 26 in the first half, pacing the team with aggressive play. His quickness and 3-point shooting prowess made him tough to defend, going 6 of 7 from the field alone in the first half, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc, along with 11 of 12 from the foul line. Howard didn’t let up after halftime, scoring eight points in 4 minutes with Carter Diarra trying to guard him.
ON THE RUN
Marquette used runs of 10-0 and 9-0 to build an 11-point lead after the first half, when Kansas State went without a field goal for a 10-minute stretch.
It was a disappointing homecoming for the gravely-voiced Weber, who was born in Milwaukee and watched Marquette games in the 1970s when the team was led by Hall of Fame coach Al McGuire.
Playing its first true road game against its toughest foe of the young season, Kansas State saw its defense falter. Marquette shot 57 percent from the field, about 20 points higher than what Kansas State was allowing coming into the afternoon.
“I’ve got a lot of great memories of Al McGuire as a kid … and them winning a lot of games at home. They played at a high level today,” Weber said.
HE SAID IT
“I’m mad at him because he gave me his flu.” — an under-the-weather Wojciechowski, tongue-in-cheek about Howard.
Kansas State: At Tulsa on Dec. 8
Marquette: Hosts UTEP on Tuesday.