Two of the Big East’s top scorers will be in action to ring in the year 2019. You sold?
The 11-2 Marquette Golden Eagles will make a trek out to Carnesecca Arena in Queens to battle the 12-1 St. John’s Red Storm on this New Year’s Day. The Golden Eagles, commanded by Markus Howard, give Shamorie Ponds and the Johnnies arguably their sternest test on the season, and could provide plenty of drama and flair in the process.
St. John’s is on the heels of their first loss of the season. It came in a big of controversial fashion, as a “clock issue” and a blown whistle (that never should’ve been blown) led to heartbreak for the Johnnies. A 3-pointer by Shavar Reynolds gave the Seton Hall Pirates a win and in turn the first tally in the loss column for the Red Storm. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and a rather quick turnaround, but the Red Storm are going to have to try and correct course and get back to their winning ways.
Marquette, meanwhile, has been riding high for over a month now. Wins over the Louisville Cardinals, Kansas State Wildcats, Wisconsin Badgers and Buffalo Bulls have shot optimism up out of a cannon in the city of Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles are off to their best start in ages it seems (the correct answer would be since the 2011-12 season) and with a legitimate balance of offense and defense guiding them along, the sky’s the limit.
As we mentioned, Markus Howard and Shamorie Ponds are facing off against each other. Exciting, right? Howard and Ponds are 1st and 4th in the Big East in scoring this season. Ponds took a bit of a dip as he was in the club of Howard and Seton Hall’s Myles Powell for a while.
Now he sits 4th behind Howard, Powell and Max Strus of the DePaul Blue Demons (to be fair, by 0.1 points). But his scoring prowess is legit and everybody knows that. He’s scored a combined 21 points in his last two games and a combined 33 in the last three. His FG% has been rather stout (apart from his woeful night vs. Seton Hall the other night) so that’s been a plus, but Ponds will need to have a legit uptick for the Red Storm to try and fend off Marquette’s offensive firepower.
Meanwhile, Howard is in a class by himself. He’s averaged 25.1 points per game through the first 13 games of the season. Not only is that 1st in the Big East, it’s tied for 5th in the nation with Jermaine Marrow of the Hampton Pirates. He’s scored 27, 26, 45 and 26 points in his last four games. His FG% has been outrageously good, having connected on 37 of his last 77 shots from the field, good for 48 percent. There has been almost no slowing him down so far this season and he’s proven that he’s going to get his, one way or another.
This has the potential to be about as fun a game as you can expect. Between these two top-flight scorers and an array of talent on both sides, the Golden Eagles and Johnnies may very well kick the new year off in style. Be sure to tune into this one, folks.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go