Marquette took care of business on Saturday night, beating the Houston Baptist University Huskies, 101-79. Senior center Luke Fischer lead the way with his sixth career double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds). Jajuan Johnson added 22 more and Haanif Cheatham scored 21 in the victory over the Huskies.
Marquette’s game was a tale of two halves. The Golden Eagles started fast and didn’t look back in the first half. Baskets came quickly, easily, and from everywhere on the court, with Fischer dominating the low block and Marquette’s cadre of guards finding open looks and lanes. Fischer added a few putback dunks for emphasis and Haanif Cheatham put his defender on skates with a crossover into stepback jumper that brought life to the Bradley Center crowd, which was lacking due to the students of Marquette being on Thanksgiving break. Marquette ended the first half up 56-33 and comfortably in the driver’s seat, having outrebounded the Huskies 23-11.
Then the second half started. Marquette came out and looked a bit deflated, lacking the effort and sharpness of the first half. The Huskies went on a few mini-streaks of scoring and outscored the Golden Eagles by one (46 to 45) in the second half. This included some tough shots falling and a flurry of contested jump shots from the Huskies. Everyone wearing Marquette gold seemed to be one step slower and the energy and hustle that defined the first half was largely gone. There were individually bright performances during the second half, but as a whole, the team seemed sluggish and content with just getting through the half. The outcome was never in doubt, but at times it was difficult to watch the Golden Eagles struggle against a team that should not have been giving them the pains they suffered.
Marquette still won, though, and they’ll take that momentum into next Wednesday, November 30th, when they play Western Carolina in Milwaukee at 7:30 PM.
Haanif Cheatam is becoming a star before our very eyes. In addition to his 21 points on 7-13 (2-2 from 3), he added 7 rebounds and 6 assists. The complete statline is great to see and shows his effort and ability in all facets of the game. He’s one of the most talented players on this team and continues to prove why every game so far this season.
Luke Fischer injury scares are no fun. In the second half he was fouled going up for a basket and came down holding his surgically repaired shoulder. He went back to the locker room to have it examined and came back to the bench. Every time the 6’11” senior comes up holding that shoulder Marquette fans collectively hold their breath. He said in the postgame press conference that it was just some pain he wanted to be careful with, but if it becomes a recurring issue Marquette fans will have one more stress point in their lives.
Katin Reinhardt continues to struggle in the Marquette offense. Besides a rather fun dunk off a Traci Carter assist in the first half, he went 1-7 from the field and 0-6 from the 3 point line. Coming into Marquette as a renowned shooter and scorer, his struggles with those are disconcerting for fans, especially because a player of his caliber and size is needed in the small Marquette lineup.
Duane Wilson got the start tonight, and that was awesome because he understands his role EXACTLY in this team. He only had one basket (an emphatic dunk after finding an open lane) and only one rebound, but he chipped in 5 assists and was a constant threat on defense. He’s providing fantastic upperclassman leadership with his minutes and has been a bright spot for Marquette.
Markus Howard is really fun to watch and I’m incredibly excited to see how his game develops, because he plays his heart out every second and is incredibly quick with his dribbling moves, allowing himself to create space in an instant for himself or others.