Both teams came out hot in the first half. By the 16:55 mark, four of Marquette’s five starters had already hit a three. Femi Olujobi was the first off the bench for DePaul. He came in and knocked down 3 three’s in two minutes. After the 5:39 mark where Marquette led 35-34, the Golden Eagles locked in to finish the half on a 16-5 run.
DePaul would go cold in the second half. The Blue Demons went 9-29 (31%) from the field. With Theo John and Ed Morrow battling through foul trouble much of the second half, Matt Heldt (7) and Jamal Cain (9) stepped up to play key minutes off the bench. Marquette never let DePaul get anything going, maintaining a double-digit lead the entire second half on th way to victory.
Markus Howard scored 18 in each half to lead Marquette with 36 points. Sam Hauser would add 17 points before exiting the game with an eye injury. Sacar Anim continued to shoot well, finishing with 12 points and went 2-for-2 from 3. Morrow finished with nine points on 4-for-4 shooting in 17 minutes.
The Golden Eagles were in control most of this game. Much of their strong play came from dominating the turnover battle. Marquette only had three turnovers each half to match their season low with 6, much below their average of 14 per game. Forcing 16 turnovers was also above their average of 12 per game. Marquette has struggled with turning the ball over all year. Limiting turnovers will be key in not making games against the middle pack of Big East teams closer than they need to be.
Olujobi caught fire in the first half with 15 points, but only added 4 in the second half to finish with 19. Max Strus added 16 points on 5-14 shooting. Paul Reed had a game-leading 11 rebounds to go with his 9 points.
After the hot start to the game, DePaul struggled to get going offensively. In the second half, neither Strus, Eli Cain, Reed or Olujobi could ever find a rhythm. Without forcing many turnovers, the Blue Demons couldn’t use easy transition buckets to spark a rally.
Marquette stays in the hunt for a Big East title moving to 21-4 and 10-2 in conference play. The Golden Eagles get a week off before facing Butler at home on February 20th.
While DePaul falls to 13-10 and 5-7 in the Big East, they are still very much in play to finish third in the conference. The Blue Demons are one game back of St. John’s who sits at third in the Big East with a 6-6 conference record. DePaul will travel to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a tough game at Butler on Saturday.