No. 10 Marquette has picked perhaps the most nerve-wracking time possible for its fans to go into a slide. On the heels of a loss against Villanova in a game in which Marquette could have sewed up the BIG EAST's regular-season championship, MU dropped its second-straight game and pulled back to even with Villanova in the loss column of the standings, falling to Creighton at Fiserv Forum yesterday, 66-60.
The loss to the Bluejays looked eerily similar to the road loss to the Wildcats for Marquette (23-6, 12-4 BIG EAST), which is suddenly looking overly reliant on Markus Howard and unable to consistently take care of the basketball. While Howard had 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting, 21 of those came in the first half, while his teammates combined for just 27 points as a unit in the game and hit just 10-of-25 shots. Howard also committed six of Marquette's 22 turnovers, equaling a season high for the team that dated back to non-conference games against Bethune-Cookman and North Dakota.
While Creighton (16-13, 7-9 BIG EAST) led much of the first half, Howard did everything possible to keep Marquette in the game, including scoring scoring all 21 of Marquette's points in a stretch spanning seven minutes near the end of the half. The last of those gave Marquette its first lead of the game, 30-29, with 1:12 remaining, which expanded to 33-29 before the break on an and-one by Joey Hauser. The lead wouldn't grow any larger than five for either team before a 10-0 Bluejays run put them up for good with under three minutes left. Marquette committed five turnovers during the run, leading directly to eight of those points.
Martin Krampelj led the Bluejays with 19 points, while Ty-Shon Alexander had 14 and Mitch Ballock added 12.
Howard's point total allowed him to surpass former teammate Andrew Rowsey's school record for most points in a season, but he only countered his six turnovers with three assists. Sacar Anim was Marquette's next-highest scorer with just seven points. Joey Hauser had six points with five assists, but also five turnovers. Brother Sam Hauser collected 10 rebounds, but went 1-for-7 overall, 1-for-6 from three-point territory, and scored just three points before fouling out late in the contest.
While Villanova seemed to right its ship with wins over Marquette and Butler this past week, Marquette will almost certainly drop in the polls and and needs to find answers quickly with just two regular-season games remaining. The first of those two comes Wednesday night in New Jersey against Seton Hall with a 5:30 p.m. start time.
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