Marquette used 23 points from Markus Howard and 20 from Jajuan Johnson to pull off a home win to start Big East conference play Wednesday night, defeating Georgetown by a 76-66 margin.
Marquette started strong, going up 11-0 in the first three minutes of the game, powered by Howard’s (hey that rhymed, neat.) two 3’s and a three and a basket from Jajuan Johnson before Jonathan Mulmore put Georgetown on the board.
Georgetown managed to battle back to tie the game at 26-26 with 7:17 left in the first half, but Marquette found another gear to get to 42-35 at halftime, including a straight up monster of a posterizing dunk by Johnson. Georgetown rode a wave of five straight made threes and Rodney Pryor’s 13 first half points (23 in total, including four threes) in order to keep the game close going into the half, even if there was an absolute howler of a foul committed by Marcus Derrickson with .1 seconds left in the half to gift Marquette two free throws (both made by Sam Hauser).
Marquette finally had a good start to a second half, and Georgetown again struggled to generate offense, allowing Marquette to pull away and keep the game mostly out of range. Georgetown tried pressing to make Marquette uncomfortable, but was only ever able to pull the lead back to within eight with 3:06 left in the game and then with 1:48 left in the game. Marquette kept up defensive pressure and grabbed 12 steals on the night, keeping the Hoyas from ever truly finding an offensive rhythm and allowing their offense to have some breathing room when it was apparent that the offense was struggling, which happened at a few different times for the Golden Eagles, especially during the second half, including a few different spurts of multiple minutes without points being put on the board (not just no field goals, no points).
Marquette used sequences like a Sam Hauser rebound-to-Hail-Mary outlet pass to Johnson for a breakaway dunk then Johnson steal to breakaway dunk to keep the pressure on the Hoyas during the second half, even if such defensive sequences cost them Andrew Rowsey fouling out (although he did hit a three basically from Chicago in the first half, which was cool).
Both teams needed this win, and Marquette came away with it. The Golden Eagles enter a grueling stretch in the Big East, having games away at Seton Hall, Villanova, a home game against Seton Hall, DePaul at home, and then at Butler and at Creighton before getting to come back home for Villanova and Providence. Having this win under their belt is crucial to preparing them for that gauntlet. And Georgetown doesn’t have it any easier. They play Xavier at home, away at Providence, and then get Butler at home before seeing St. John’s.
- Markus Howard should be a contender for Freshman of the Year. He plays like no other 17 year old I’ve ever seen, and he’s already scoring and shooting at an elite level while also distributing the ball well. Marquette’s found an incredible talent in him.
- Rodney Pryor is absolutely dangerous and he will be the reason that Georgetown takes games off of teams that are better on paper. Every time he touched the ball it felt like he would score. Marcus Derrickson is also a threat and I’m curious to see what happens when they play teams that can’t outshoot their physicality and length.
- Marquette finally had two good halves of basketball back to back, even if they weren’t necessarily the prettiest halves of basketball as a whole. That’s encouraging for a team that’s looked lost at times coming out of the locker room.
- Both teams had players go down to groin injury today. Georgetown lost LJ Peak, a huge blow to their offense, and Marquette saw Duane Wilson get hurt. Both are important parts of their team and will be sorely missed should their time out be extended.
- Haanif Cheatham had a rough offensive performance, going 1-6 from the floor. But he had a huge presence trying to run with Rodney Pryor. Coach Wojo said after the game that Pryor’s life got a lot more difficult once Cheatham started guarding him, so it was good to see him pushing to be impactful when his shot isn’t falling.
- Coach Thompson is still optimistic about his team. He said after the game that they “weren’t executing on the offensive or defensive end” and that they needed their full-court pressure to “generate energy for themselves”. He knows that he has a talented team and that they just need to put it all together to be a threat to any team in the Big East.
- And finally, Coach Wojo has a great sense of humor.