January 6, 2019 / 7:30 PM / a month ago

Howard back in form as No. 16 Marquette routs Xavier

EditorsNote: fixes minor style errors

Markus Howard rebounded from his lowest-scoring game of the year with a game-high 26 points and eight assists Sunday as No. 16 Marquette squashed Xavier 70-52 in a Big East matchup at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

Sacar Anim scored 20 points and added seven rebounds for the Golden Eagles (12-3, 1-1), while Joey Hauser chipped in 18 points to go along with five boards. With Howard sinking 6 of 15 3-pointers, Marquette outscored the Musketeers 30-3 from the 3-point line.

Naji Marshall paced Xavier (9-7, 1-2) with 21 points, while Paul Scruggs added 17 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 3:49 left. His departure essentially ended the game’s competitive phase, with the Golden Eagles rattling off eight straight points to up their lead to 20 in the final 90 seconds.

Howard and Marquette each needed a bounce-back outing. In an 89-69 blowout defeat Tuesday night at St. John’s, Howard hit only 2-of-15 shots and scored eight points. The Golden Eagles’ vastly improved defense leaked holes in the lane all game, allowing the Red Storm to shoot 53.6 percent from the field.

Marquette was back to its stingy ways on its home floor on Sunday, limiting the Musketeers to 31.5 percent shooting from the field, including a miserable 1-of-14 on 3-pointers. Howard needed a little time to heat up, but he got early help from Anim.

Entering the game averaging just 6.4 points per game, Anim nearly equaled it the first two times he shot it. After producing a 3-point play to initiate scoring, he then stuck a 3-pointer to put the Golden Eagles ahead to stay at 6-3.

The margin reached double figures at the 11:52 mark on a 3-ball by Hauser and got as high as 25-9 on two foul shots by Hauser with 7:38 left. Xavier did fight back within 35-26 at the half, courtesy of a free throw by Marshall 31 seconds before intermission.

Marquette started the second half with a 13-2 burst that gave it a 20-point advantage with 11:40 left on Hauser’s jumper. The Musketeers never got closer than nine.

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