Friday, February 28, 2020

Powell and Howard look to put on a show in their final regular season meeting

Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton- Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

In a day in age where fans are fixated on which star freshman will be the next player to go one and done to the NBA Draft pool, Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Marquette’s Markus Howard are a pair of players who have proven that staying in school all four seasons can help with development on the court.

Howard could have left for the NBA last season, but opted to stay for one more run and has continued to take world of college basketball by storm with a Big East-high 27.2 points per game, while Powell is second in the league with a 21.3 mark.

The top two scorers in the Big East square off in their final regular season meeting on Saturday at Fiserv Forum with Powell’s teams winning five of the last nine in the series, including the last three.

The most memorable game in the run goes back to March 15, 2019 in the Big East tournament semifinal where emotions were running high on both sides as the score stayed within single digits. Then a series of technical and flagrant fouls in the second half were assessed, which culminated in the ejections of Theo John, Sacar Anim (Marquette) and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili at the 12:46 mark. Powell was also initially ejected from the game and visibly emotional as he walked to the tunnel at Madison Square Garden.

Thinking the night was history, a mistake would be made by the officials with Powell’s involvement and the technical would be rescinded moments later as an assistant coach went to the back and got Powell back on the court. Powell would score 18 of his 22 points in the second half on the way to an 81-79 win over Marquette.

While Powell enjoyed his finest hour, Howard endured his toughest as he fought through a wrist injury and finished 1-of-15 from the field. 

The pair’s NCAA tournament journeys were one and done, but once both elected to come back for one last run, their seasons have been spectacular to this point.

While Powell has been the focus in Seton Hall’s best start since the 1992-93 season at 20-7, other players such as Romero Gill, Quincy McKnight and Mamukelashvili have provided much needed support.

In the first meeting of the season on Jan. 11 at the Prudential Center, Powell went for 23 points, with the bench played a key role in a 69-55 win over Marquette. Howard lived to his scoring average in defeat with 27.

While their respective teams are NCAA tournament bound, the goals are polar opposites— Seton Hall stands on the verge of winning the Big East regular season title, while Marquette is looking to stay even keel in seeding for next month’s conference tournament to avoid playing on opening night, where spots seven through ten play. 

Regardless of standing in league play, the individuals’ offensive performances have been off the charts even for Big East standards as Powell has produced 14 20-plus point games this season, while Howard has put 30 points or more up on 12 occasions, highlighted by a 51-point effort against USC on Nov. 29, 2019.

Powell and Howard will look to put together one more classic showdown in Milwaukee, which should provide an escape after the mass shooting that took place at Molson Coors’ campus on Feb. 26.