When Markus Howard left the game three minutes in with what Jeff Levering and Stephen Bardo called back spasms I thought to myself, “I don’t care how we win, just that we win.” My second thought was, “who is going to step up now?”
37 minutes later, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles escaped the Capital One Center with a 74-71 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas. What happened in those 37 minutes was ultra important. It reassured me that Marquette CAN win on the road. And they did it without Mr. Ridiculous himself, Markus Howard.
Marquette used a team effort to overcome a three point halftime deficit. Four Golden Eagles finished with double digits led by, yup you guessed it, Sam Hauser. He filled the void that Markus left and finished with a career high 31 points to go with 8 boards. He made incredible shots at key points of the second half to answer Georgetown’s hot shooting (55% from three). The coveted fadeaway mid-ranger was working all night for Sam. He was also able to splash in some deeeeep three pointers and made four of nine from behind the arc. Go look at his highlights people. The moves he made to create his shots were absolutely masterful.
This game was close the entire way. In the first half Georgetown held the slim margin and it was Marquette clawing its way and keeping it close as the Golden Eagles had to adjust on the fly to the departure of Howard. In the second half, the script flipped and Marquette held the advantage with the Hoyas fighting back with timely sharpshooting. An un-named colleague of mine predicted freshman guard Mac McClung would not be a threat from deep [Editor’s Note: Hey, I said “don’t bother defending him until he hits two,” and then he hit his first two. I am guilt free here.]. Wellll he hit four of his six threes and dropped 24 points to lead the Hoyas. Let’s not challenge a shooter shall we?
The Golden Eagle defense did a great job of tightening up in the second half and forced Georgetown into tough shots. They also held the best big man in the Big East to a quiet 14 points. Jessie Govan struggled with foul trouble which was definitely related to the MU offense attacking the rim. Most notably Sacar Anim was aggressive taking the ball to the rack and was able to give the Hoya defense some headaches. He finished with 10 points and made a beautiful reverse layup with just under five minutes left to put MU up 68-66.
I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without talking about the impact Theo John made on this game. Coming in, he was going to need to be the impact player without the services of Ed Morrow thanks to an ankle injury. John finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. With 4 seconds left he and the most important play of the game when he swatted away a James Akinjo shot that barely got out of Akinjo’s hands. THIS IS THEO’S LANE: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. The score was 72-71 MU and that shot would have given Georgetown a one point lead with under four seconds left. Sam Hauser pulled down the loose ball and made his ensuing free throws (a perfect 7-for-7 from the line) to ice the game.
I deeply exhaled after this game was over because I guess I was holding my breath for most of it. It was very tightly contested but in the end, Marquette kept its composure and made big plays when necessary to get a well-earned victory that makes me very happy. They can very much win on the road, they can win without Markus, and Brendan Bailey balled out tonight.
None of those were truths that I was confident in saying before tonight-especially the last one. A surprise for all of us was the game Bailey had in extended minutes: 9 points on 4-for-5 shooting and four, yes FOUR blocks, most of them of the “wait, how did he reach that?” variety! He played tough defense and got his lengthy arms on many balls to deny the Hoyas. He had at least two blocks from behind that I noticed. Just overall great awareness on defense.
It’s nice to know we can win without Markus but I hope this isn’t something the Golden Eagles have to worry about. Hopefully it’s just back spasms and he can recover from it quick enough to be ready for the weekend matchup against Providence. We patiently await an update on his back injury.
Up Next: The #15 Golden Eagles will host the Providence Friars nice an early Sunday morning (11 am start). Providence is 11-6 and 1-3 in conference play. They picked up their first Big East win most recently when they defeated Seton Hall 72-63 in the first game of the Tuesday night FS1 doubleheader.