Markus Howard scored 35 points and Marquette outrebounded Xavier, 46-30, as MU beat Xavier, 85-65, in a battle of BIG EAST teams that came in losers of two-straight at Fiserv Forum last night.
Sacar Anim and Jayce Johnson each had eight rebounds for Marquette (12-5, 2-3 BIG EAST) as it never trailed against the punchless Musketeers. Anim also added 12 points, while Theo John and Koby McEwen scored 10.
Johnson was pressed into more minutes in the absence of Ed Morrow, who, according to the official Marquette Basketball Twitter account, has taken “ … an indefinite leave of absence … for personal reasons.” Head coach Steve Wojciechowski said it was “hard to say” whether the senior forward will be expected back soon. Johnson took over any minutes Morrow may have seen at center, combining with John and Anim to get 25 rebounds as a group.
Marquette also played without Greg Elliott, who continues to use a walking boot and has no return timetable.
Even without facing Morrow or Elliott, Xavier (12-6, 1-4 BIG EAST) was overmatched. A 10-3 Marquette run in less than two minutes made it 35-25 MU with 4:56 remaining in the first half. The closest the Musketeers got in the second half was seven, 46-39, with 18:19 left. However, Howard scored 13 of the next 15 points, save a jumper for Marquette guard Symir Torrence, to up the lead to 22 over the next five and a half minutes. The closest Xavier got from then onward was 17.
Tyrique Jones led the Musketeers with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Naji Marshall added 15 despite leaving the game for a time after a hard fall; he returned and appeared unhindered. Coach Travis Steele was disappointed in his team’s fourth loss in five games and repeatedly told the media post-game, “Changes will be made.”
The Marquette win came after team celebrated the career of Wesley Matthews with a bobblehead giveaway for the first 7,500 fans in attendance. Now an 11-year NBA veteran in his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Matthews stands 10th among Marquette’s all-time top scorers after playing for Tom Crean and Buzz Williams from 2005-09. Matthews held a nostalgia-tinged press conference before the game, in which he credited lessons learned at Marquette for helping him become successful in professional basketball. He then watched the game courtside, sitting next to Bucks teammate and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and coach Mike Budenholzer.
As for the current Marquette players, they now look forward to a matchup with a Georgetown team that also stands 2-3 in conference play. The Hoyas will host MU in Washington, D.C., with a tip time scheduled for 1 p.m. CST Saturday.
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