Turns out it gets easier to win when you shoot 50% from behind the three-point line. It also helps when you hold your opponent under 24% shooting from back there when they take 10 more attempts than you.
All of that was just part of the puzzle for #10 Marquette as they went into Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday night and came away with a 76-58 victory over Butler. With the win, MU is now 19-3 overall and 8-1 in Big East play. At eight straight wins, it is the longest Big East winning streak for the Golden Eagles since the 2008-09 team started out conference play with a 9-0 record.
It definitely didn’t feel like it was going to be a “break 75 and win by 18” kind of game in the early going. By the time we hit the 16 minute mark of the first half, Marquette had already turned the ball over five times and it took until the 7:32 mark of the first half to get both teams into double digits. Thankfully, the turnover bug had worn off by then, and when Kamar Baldwin dropped in a bucket for the Bulldogs to get them to 11, that trimmed Marquette’s lead at the time to just four points.
Back-to-back buckets by Markus Howard a little bit later jetted the lead out to eight points, and for a second, it felt like this thing was about to tip over. Butler fought back, though, and the game turned into a bit of “Marquette wants to pull away, but Butler won’t let them.” Howard tortured the Bulldogs down the stretch before halftime, scoring the last 11 points of the half for the Golden Eagles as MU went into the locker room with a 34-25 advantage.
A quick five points by Sam Hauser coming out of the intermission had the lead up to 12 points with 60 seconds gone by, and the lead would hit 17 on a transition pull-up three by Joseph Chartouny that the FS1 cameras were completely incapable of properly catching and transmitting to the universe. For a split second, Marquette was cruising at Hinkle Fieldhouse and on their way to their first win against Butler on the road since The Reformation.
Butler immediately threw together an 11-0 run over the next three minutes, capped by five straight points from Baldwin, and suddenly, things were dicey. 10:02 to play, the lead down six, the Bulldog faithful full throated and bouncing up and down.
Two free throws by Howard.
A big triple from Sacar Anim.
A triple by Sam Hauser.
Back-to-back layups by Howard.
That’s 12-0 in three in a half minutes. Somehow, Marquette gave up an 11-0 run and ended up coming out ahead on the whole deal with a 63-45 lead and 6:34 to play.
From there, the lead only went below 15 once, on a Nate Fowler lay-in with 5:29 to go that made it 64-50. An and-1 by Sam and a triple by Howard shoved back and pushed the lead out to 20, and that was pretty much that as the once boisterous Butler believers elected to depart into the frigid Indianapolis night before the final horn.
On the whole, once they got past the early turnover problem, Marquette’s offense was electrifying, posting an effective field goal percentage of 65% backed by an 8-of-16 performance from behind the arc. Markus Howard finished with 32 points on 14-of-23 shooting as he got super hot as the game went on. Sacar Anim added 13 and Sam Hauser had 19 points to go with five rebounds.
The defense, once maligned and bemoaned on the road this season, was stellar. Butler shot just 33% from the field and 23% from downtown. Kamar Baldwin led them in scoring with 16 points, but it took him 15 shots to get there.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FS1 and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: The win pretty much guarantees that Marquette will still be ranked #10 at least next week, as the Golden Eagles won’t play again until after the next AP poll comes out. St. John’s comes to town on Tuesday night, giving the Golden Eagles the chance to avenge their only loss in their last 17 contests.