The start of this game was looking like a feeling-out process, but Xavier jumped out to an 11-5 lead after Quentin Goodin drained a pair from long range, something that he isn’t necessarily known for. Then, the Markus Howard Show began. He had 11 of Marquette’s first 12 points converting his first five out of seven shots.
Despite the early onslaught offensively by Howard, the Musketeers kept the foot on the pedal, making their last four out of five field goals to gain an eight-point lead at the under-12 timeout.
The Golden Eagles hit a rough patch on offense going on a scoring drought that lasted more than three minutes. The Musketeers were still on the attack up by ten at the under eight-minute timeout. Coming off the bench, Paul Scruggs made an immediate impact scoring eight points in just six minutes of action.
Marquette was forced to call a timeout and talk things over after Xavier went on a 6-0 run capped off by an emphatic one-handed jam by the athletic Goodin, who had a full head of steam going to the basket.
The Xavier scoring barrage was at its apex in the last four minutes of the first half when the offense looked to be unstoppable. The charge was lead by who other than Trevon Bluiett who was heating up from three-point land. Meanwhile, Goodin, who is typically an attack-and-finish type scorer, was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first half.
“He [Goodin] has always been working on his shot...Quentin took good ones,” Chris Mack said about Goodin’s shooting. “I want him to take good ones and the great point guards do what the game tells them...Those were all rhythm, wide open threes.”
Mack added, “I don’t know how many point guards in the country can make that in-and-out move and dunk it the way he did.”
The Musketeers absolutely dominated the Golden Eagles in the first half, commanding a resounding 51-33 lead heading into the locker room. Xavier had easily one of their best, if not the best first half showing this season. Goodin was the Musketeers leading scorer with 13 points. On the Marquette side of things, the Eagles didn't have much to show for offensively other than the one man wrecking crew of Howard who lit up the Musketeers for 24 points in just the first half alone.
The Musketeers put up an impressive stat line in the first 20 minutes of play shooting 57.6 percent overall including 54.5 percent from long range. These numbers are polar opposite to Marquette’s first-half slate as it shot 41.9 percent from the field and an even worse 18.2 percent from three-point range.
Both teams got off to a rocky start in the opening minutes of the second half trading turnovers in the first couple of possessions.
Things quickly went back to normal and at the 16-minute mark, the Musketeers still held a steady 59-41 advantage. Xavier kept scoring with ease and quite literally ripped the net open. Play was stopped less than two minutes later as the Cintas facility staff had to completely replace the ripped net on the basket opposite of the Xavier student section.
The Musketeers, off the extended break, continued to thrash the Golden Eagles and led 69-47 at the 12:58 mark of the second half. The Xavier routing of Marquette was still in effect as the Musketeers were up big 78-57 at the under 8-minute timeout.
A mid-range jumper by Bluiett marked a pinnacle point in his Xavier career—becoming a member of the elite 2000 point club. Only five Musketeers in program history have ever done so. Most notably being Byron Larkin, its all-time leading scorer and David West, who currently plays for the Golden State Warriors.
“I feel like it really hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to be one of the few guys in the program, it feels pretty special,” Bluiett said after the game. “I’ve been a guy that always focused on team success and a believer that individual success would follow.”
With 3:45 left to go in the game, the Musketeers matched their largest lead of the game on top by 26 points. From that point on, Xavier cruised to yet another home victory, remaining perfect at Cintas Center by defeating Marquette 89-70.
“He [Trevon Bluiett] has become a better player each and every year, but like everything...he’s going to look back and know that he was a hell of a college player,” Mack said about Bluiett.
Bluiett: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists (Reached 2000 point mark)
Goodin: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists
Marshall: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
Kanter: 14 points
Scruggs: 10 points
Howard: 33 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
The most glaring aspect of this game that stood out was how much of a team effort this win really was. Five Musketeers scored in double digits and to top it off, every player on scholarship scored tonight. Games like that are eye-opening in a way because it means that the Musketeers have the potential to score from multiple avenues, not just from the usual suspects like Bluiett and Macura.
The Musketeers played loose and with a lot of confidence in this matchup. While they did allow a prolific scorer in Markus Howard to score 33 points on them, a bright spot can be that Xavier held the Big East’s leading scorer, Andrew Rowsey to just six points. In the previous matchup between the two teams, Rowsey dropped 31 points in a closely-contested Xavier victory.
With a win tonight, Xavier took two Big East games from Marquette, who is by no stretch of the imagination a pushover team. Marquette possesses two of the conference’s top scoring threats and Xavier was able to shut down half of that duo.
The energy in this game seemed to carry over from the win against Seton Hall and the Musketeers are on a roll, which in the heart of Big East play, can pay large dividends come year’s end.
The Musketeers now have a considerable amount of time off as they don’t play until next Tuesday but nonetheless have a favorable matchup against the last-place St. John’s Red Storm, a team that the Musketeers have already taken down once this season.