Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Green’s five things to watch for in Wednesday’s Purdue/Marquette game

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Gavitt Tipoff Games season is here once more for select Big Ten and Big East schools as Purdue and Marquette square off Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum. Here are five things to watch for in the meeting between a pair of NCAA tournament teams from last season:

1) Howard don’t hurt them:

Despite the transfers of Sam and Joey Hauser in the off-season, Markus Howard has kept the train rolling for Marquette with a 38-point performance, on 7-of-10 from three-point range in an 88-53 win over Loyola (MD) in the season opener on Nov. 5.

Howard passed Jerel McNeal as Marquette’s all-time leading scorer with 1,993 points, but will face a much stiffer challenge with Purdue guards Nojel Eastern and Jahaad Proctor expected to primarily guard the senior star.

2) Marquette’s role players:

If the Golden Eagles hope to live up to any of the high expectations prior to the loss of the Hauser brothers, then their role players must continue to step up. Theo John continued his block party from last season with a career-high eight blocks in the season opener against Loyola (MD).

The addition of Utah State transfer Koby McEwen paid immediate dividends with 11 points and seven rebounds in the Loyola game, while Sacar Anim added 11 points and four assists.

3) Boilermaker revenge on their minds:

There is nothing more lethal than a team with a chip on its shoulder and Purdue will look to bounce back after a 70-66 loss to Texas on Nov. 9. A bright spot in the Boilermakers’ loss was the emergence of Sasha Stefanovic. 

Despite missing the Green Bay game with a right ankle injury, Stefanovic returned and kept Purdue afloat with 14 points, on 5-of-8 shooting, to go along with three steals. His energy off the bench will be needed if Purdue wants to avoid a 1-2 start to the season.

4) Reverse the curse:

The Golden Eagles and the Gavitt Tipoff Games have not been the best of friends as they look to win their first game since the series started in 2015. Marquette is in 0-3 all-time with losses to Iowa, Purdue and Indiana. 

The 86-71 loss to Purdue on Nov. 19, 2017 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center is fresh in Howard’s mind as the then-sophomore delivered 24 points in 33 minutes, which will give Marquette more motivation to deliver a win that can go a long way towards the month of March.

5) Five in a row for Purdue against the Big East?

The Purdue Boilermakers have feasted on Big East teams over the last three seasons with four consecutive wins, highlighted by an 87-61 win over the Villanova Wildcats in last season’s NCAA tournament second round.

If the Boilermakers are to win five in a row, it would have to accomplish that feat over the Golden Eagles for the second time on the road in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.