The Marquette men’s basketball team is a little more than halfway through its season, having played 19 out of the 30 games on its schedule. The Golden Eagles are off until Jan. 24, when they take on No. 11 Xavier, so this seems like a good time for a quick recap of everything that’s happened to this point.
Marquette is currently 13-6 overall and 4-3 in the BIG EAST, which puts them sixth in the conference.
If you spent the last couple of months watching the Packers and Bucks and ignoring Marquette, fear not; you’ve found the perfect article. The next couple months on the sports calendar, it’s all about college basketball. So buckle up and get ready for all the news and notes you need to know about the Golden Eagles.
A good storyteller never buries the lead, so let’s start with the latest news from Wisconsin Ave.
Welcome to @jjhouz24, 2018 signee who enrolls for second semester at @MarquetteU. He will utilize open scholarship and redshirt. He will wear No. 22. #mubb pic.twitter.com/u8bodWwkG2 — MarquetteMBB (@MarquetteMBB) January 17, 2018
It was announced on Wednesday that top recruit Joey Hauser, the younger brother of Sam, a sophomore guard on the team, will graduate early from high school and enroll at Marquette for this semester.
Hauser will redshirt, but being at Marquette gives him a chance to work with the team’s training and medical staffs, as Hauser recovers from the ankle surgery he underwent in December. Hauser is the No.2 recruit in Wisconsin and No.45 recruit nationally, according to 247sports.
Following Marquette’s win against DePaul on Tuesday, head coach Steve Wojciechowski announced freshman Ike Eke underwent successful back surgery. There is no timetable for his return. Eke redshirted this season.
Let’s move on to what the people really care about, no matter how early it is: NCAA Tournament prognosticating. Few of us have doctorates in the subject, but every year we find ourselves following the Golden Eagles’ postseason chances with a cult-like zeal.
In his most recent projections (released Jan. 15), ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Marquette in the tournament as a 10 seed. Not a shabby spot to be.
Marquette has key wins versus Seton Hall, VCU, LSU and Vermont, while most of their losses have come against ranked opponents like No.3 Purdue, No. 7 Wichita State, No.11 Xavier and No.1 Villanova. The Golden Eagles also have losses against Georgia and Butler, which are two games that could potentially come back to hurt the squad when Selection Sunday rolls around.
Howard’s big night
Back on Jan. 3, in an overtime win at Providence, sophomore guard Markus Howard scored 52 points. You read that right. Howard dropped 52 freaking points in a college basketball game.
His performance tied the BIG EAST record for most points in a game and broke the Marquette record for most buckets in a contest. And by the way, he only had 10 points at halftime. Oh, also, he had 37 points the next game against No. 1 Villanova. In summary, Howard is good.
Marquette's Markus Howard followed up his 52-point performance against Providence with a 37-point outburst against Villanova. Tremendous shooter emerging as a complete player. pic.twitter.com/AQvadJOYyb — Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 7, 2018
Marquette defeats No. 13 Seton Hall
This goes back to the science of braketology. As complicated as the NCAA Tournament selections seem to be, one thing is for sure: wins against ranked opponents are good. Scratch that; they are fantastic.
The Golden Eagles must have realized this when they welcomed the ranked Pirates to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Jan. 9 because they seemingly never missed a shot – at one point going on a 16-0 run. Andrew Rowsey led the way with 31 points.
It was good to be back at @BMOHBC - check out the highlights from a 20-point #mubb win over Seton Hall. @BIGEASTMBB @CBSSportsNet pic.twitter.com/Kbr0vYg9Qe — MarquetteMBB (@MarquetteMBB) January 10, 2018
Rowsey joins the 2,000 club
Guard Andrew Rowsey hit 2,000 career points with his first free throw of the night. He's scored 758 points in just over a year and a half with #mubb. In addition to his time at UNC-Asheville, he's scored 2,002 in his career. pic.twitter.com/45KIBJ3B0M — MarquetteMBB (@MarquetteMBB) January 16, 2018
Rowsey claimed his 2,000 point in college basketball Tuesday night against DePaul. The guard tallied 1,244 points at UNC-Ashville before transferring to Marquette. No player in school history had reached 2,000 points before. Quick quiz: Which Marquette player is closest to 2,000 points? (Answer at bottom of article; now you have to keep reading.)
For the first time since 2012, the Golden Eagles traveled off the mainland to compete in the Maui Jim Invitational, back in November. The tournament always contains a plethora of quality opponents, and despite a loss to Wichita State, Marquette got important wins against VCU and LSU.
Hannif Cheatham had started 63 out of 70 games in his Marquette career, including the first five games of this season, so it came as a surprise when the team announced in November that he would be leaving the program. Cheatman said he was transferring was for personal reasons and needed to be closer to Florida, where he is from. Cheatam, who was averaging 8.2 points per game, transferred to Florida Gulf Coast.
Freshmen making an impact
With Cheatham’s departure, Marquette needed someone to step up and take his minutes. Freshmen Jamal Cain and Greg Elliot have done just that. Cain is averaging 16 minutes a game, while Elliot plays 19 minutes a contest. Both Elliot and Cain look young, but they’ve got freak athleticism showcased by their electric put-back slams and absurd drives to the basket. Elliot, for the most part, has also been a force on defense with 19 blocks.
Rowsey’s foul-drawing, pump-fake 3-pointer has taken on a life of its own on the internet. Each time he gets the whistle from beyond the arc (last count had 18 successful #thethings), Marquette Twitter goes wild with #thething. Rowsey says he doesn’t practice the move, but he has the motion worked out with a ballet dancer-like mastery of balance and focus.
Howard and Rowsey are good at scoring
It has been known in Milwaukee for a while, but this year the backcourt duo’s scoring prowess has been exemplified. Howard leads the BIG EAST in scoring with 21.5 points per game and Rowsey follows him with 20.8 a night. They are first and foremost sharpshooters – Howard and Rowsey are ranked No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, in the nation in 3-pointers made – but both have also improved their driving ability.
Marquette destroyed Wisconsin
The Golden Eagles beat the Badgers, 82-63, on Dec. 9. It was the largest margin of victory in a road game for Marquette since 1958. Always great to rout your rival.
Quiz answer: Jerel McNeal, with 1,985 points
John Hand is a junior journalism student at Marquette who has covered the Golden Eagles for Marquette TV, Radio and The Marquette Tribune. He is a former OnMilwaukee intern and current sports correspondent.