Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Green's five takeaways from No. 10 Marquette's 92-73 win at DePaul

Photo Credit: Geno Green- College Sports Overload

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

It was a frenetic pace as the No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles (21-4, 10-2 Big East) breezed the DePaul Blue Demons (13-10, 5-7 Big East), 92-73, behind Markus Howard’s fourth 30-plus point game in his last five. Howard’s in-depth performance kicks off my five takeaways from Wintrust Arena.

1) Howard’s versatility:

When you think of Markus Howard, three-point shooting comes to mind with the ability to create and execute shots anywhere. Tuesday night’s game at DePaul showcased the junior’s ability to endure contact towards the rim and deliver on a 36-point night, on 12-of-21 from the field.

Despite past struggles at DePaul from Howard, Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski knows Howard can have off-nights on the road and Tuesday’s performance proved anything can be overcome.

“With great players, history doesn’t really matter,” Wojciechowski said. “Markus is a great player and even great players can have off-games. Markus was Markus and provided terrific leadership tonight, along with Sam [Hauser] Sacar [Anim].”

DePaul coach Dave Leitao knows giving Howard too many opportunities can lead to bleak consequences and Tuesday night proved to be the case.

“He’s a very tricky cover because of his high-skill level and shoots the ball as well as anybody in America,” Leitao said. “He has the ability to keep you off-balance, good enough with the dribble to catch and shoot and to go to the basket. Whenever you pay too much attention to him, the other guys around him benefit.

2) The good and the ugly from Sam Hauser:

After being held in check by Villanova’s vaunted defense to four points on 2-of-6 shooting on Feb. 9, Sam Hauser felt at ease after draining the first three points of the contest, which led to a 17-point night in 31 minutes.

Hauser began to find open looks on the court as Marquette’s lead expanded to 29-20 near the halfway point of the first half.

Things did not end on a positive note as Hauser took a shot to his right eye at the 6:36 mark in the second half as he was taken to the locker room after saying that he could not see. Hauser returned to the bench towards the end of regulation, but did not return to the court.

3) Marquette’s ball movement on the perimeter:

Long-range looks came a lot easier to start the game compared to Villanova on Feb. 9, when the pace was dictated in a half-court, grind-it-out. Marquette made five of its first six baskets from three-point land to go up 16-7 on DePaul.

As DePaul answered each challenge from behind to keep the game within a possession for most of the first half, the makes from long range and unselfish play helped set the tone for a 16-5 Marquette run to end the first 20 minutes with a 51-39 advantage.

“I thought we shared the ball well and when we get open shots, we can shoot at a high percentage. I felt we were unselfish and was proud of my guys for that,” Wojciechowski said.

4) The 11-minute momentum shift:

While Marquette enjoyed its run to close the first half, DePaul committed five turnovers and missed four straights from the field on two different occasions in an 11-minute stretch.

The struggles on offense proved to be enough to keep DePaul from pulling to within single digits of Marquette for the remainder of the game.

Wojciechowski knows runs will come and was proud of how Marquette played in that stretch to keep DePaul caged.

“We were able to string together a few stops and teams in our league are good,” Wojciechowski said. “Some people are going to make runs, no matter what time of the game is. We started the second half really well against Villanova and I thought tonight that our guys were locked in pretty well.”

5) Olujobi stands out among the Blue Demon players: 

One of the few bright spots for the Blue Demons turned out to be Femi Olujobi and not for what most would assume.

Known more his ability to attack in the paint, Olujobi showcased his perimeter skills with a career-high three long-makes, which highlighted a team-high 19 points.

[Femi] had 3 three’s tonight and came out ready to play,” Wojciechowski said. “He’s a handful to deal with it.”

More effort will be needed on a consistent basis by the Blue Demons as there are no easy outs in the Big East where they are in the middle of a logjam where spots three to nine are within one and a half games of each other.