Can Seton Hall stop No. 21 Marquette, Howard?
Marquette's Markus Howard set the Big East scoring record with an electrifying 53 points in a 106-104 thriller at Creighton on Wednesday.
Now, the intrigue will be about how Howard can follow up the most productive game in Big East game history.
Seton Hall (12-4, 3-1 Big East) becomes the next team to attempt to stop Howard on Saturday afternoon when it visits No. 21 Marquette.
Marquette (13-3, 2-1 Big East) enters the game with 10 wins in 11 games since a 77-68 loss to Kansas in the NIT Season Tip-off in Brooklyn on Nov. 21. The one loss was a 20-point setback at St. John's on Jan. 1, when Howard shot 2 of 15.
Howard rebounded from the quiet night against St. John's by getting 26 against Xavier on Sunday and then more than doubled that total by shooting 15 of 26, hitting 10 of 14 3-pointers and scoring 14 in overtime on Wednesday.
"I guess we shouldn't be surprised anymore," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "He's done it enough where on certain nights he's capable of being magical. Every night he's really, really good. He certainly delivered at an incredible level 1/8Wednesday night 3/8, and his teammates came up with some big plays, too."
Howard set a school record a little over a year after he totaled 52 points at Providence to equal the league mark set by Providence's MarShon Brooks. His follow-up performance was a 37-point showing in a 10-point loss to Villanova.
Even with Howard scoring at will, the Golden Eagles needed others to knock off Creighton. Sam Hauser hit the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime and then Howard took over.
"You just got to give him the ball when he's on like that," Hauser said. "Credit to him. He's an unbelievable scorer. He plays his heart out every night."
While Howard was setting a record, the Pirates played in yet another tight game and emerged with a 76-75 home win over Butler on Wednesday. Three of Seton Hall's conference games have been decided by two points or less, and the Pirates are 6-3 in games decided by five points or less.
Sandro Mamukelashvili had the game-winning dunk with 12 seconds remaining on a play when each player touched the ball to cap a night when Myles Powell scored 31 points as the Pirates rebounded from a disappointing showing Sunday at DePaul.
"It's a young team, but we're playing like older guys," Seton Hall guard Quincy McKnight said after delivering the inbounds pass on the play that led to the game-winning hoop.
Powell is second in the league with 22.6 points per game behind Howard's 25.8. He has three games with at least 30 points and the Pirates are 6-3 when the guard scores at least 20.
Saturday will be Seton Hall's second game against a ranked team. Powell scored 28 points in the Pirates' 84-83 overtime win over then-No. 9 Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9.
Powell and McKnight will be among those assigned to stop Howard, who was held to 12 points in Seton Hall's 20-point win last January and poured in 32 in an 88-85 win at Seton Hall last February.
"It's a different scorer and a different offense," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. Markus' range, the way Steve (Wojciechowski) brings him off stagger (screens) and fades. It's going to be something that's new.
"I don't think you're ever excited to go up against Markus Howard," Willard quipped. "It's like (asking), Are you excited to go get a colonoscopy?'"
Marquette leads the all-time series 18-7 with all but one meeting taking place since the Golden Eagles joined the Big East in 2005-06.
--Field Level Media