NCAA Basketball

Howard back for more as No. 11 Marquette visits Providence

Excuse the arena security staff if they are instructed to lock the doors to the Dunkin' Donuts Center when they see Markus Howard approaching.

The Marquette junior guard set a then-school record and matched the then-Big East record with 52 points in last season's appearance in Providence, and he is back to try to torment the Friars again when the teams meet Saturday in the Rhode Island capital.

Howard has since broken the marks with a 53-point effort against Creighton earlier this season, but few have forgotten his stunning performance in the 95-90 overtime win against Providence.

The 5-foot-11 Howard was 17 of 29 shooting -- matching his school record of 11 3-pointers -- and drained all seven free-throw attempts in a show-stopping performance.

Howard is averaging 25.7 points this season as the No. 11 Golden Eagles (22-4, 11-2 Big East) attempt to maintain their conference lead over Villanova. Marquette has a half-game edge.

Howard is small in stature but long on accolades. He ranks fourth in school history with 1,772 career points -- one behind third-place George Thompson (1966-69) -- and is on track to become the school's first 2,000-point scorer.

He is also more consumed by the win column than his growing point total.

"I just think us as a team, we're getting better each and every day," Howard told reporters. "I have great teammates that allow me to do what I'm able to do. But without them, what I do is impossible."

Howard made six 3-pointers and poured in 28 points as Marquette registered a 79-69 home win over Butler on Wednesday.

Sophomore forward Theo John took advantage of Butler's attempts to double-team Howard by contributing 15 points, a career-best 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

"Teams have to dedicate a lot to our shooting, and teams have to dedicate a lot to Markus Howard, in particular," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said after the contest. "A lot of times, the second defender on Markus is the opposing team's center. So, when we got the ball out of the trap, Theo was open. To his credit, he was able to finish."

Howard was "held" to 24 points on 4-of-15 shooting in this season's first meeting with Providence -- a 79-68 home win for the Golden Eagles on Jan. 20. Junior forward Sam Hauser, who averages 15.1 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds, led Marquette with 25 points.

Sophomore center Nate Watson had 21 points -- tying his career high -- for the Friars. Junior guard Alpha Diallo scored 16 points.

Watson, who averages 11.7 points, also had 21 points on Wednesday as Providence (15-12, 5-9) rolled to a 78-59 victory over St. John's. The win was just the second in the past seven games for the Friars.

"I was just proud of our guys' attitude," Providence coach Ed Cooley said afterward. "It's easy to fold up the chairs when you're not playing well. We didn't come off a great performance so I thought our players showed great resilience."

Diallo had 16 points and 11 rebounds against St. John's and leads the Friars in scoring (16.4), rebounding (8.1) and assists (3.1).

Providence's postseason aspirations are shaky after the recent slump, but Cooley feels a strong finishing kick could change things.

"Young men are resilient," Cooley said. "It's not how you start, and it's a cliche, but we're trying to finish strong. In our league anybody can beat anybody on a given night, as you see.

"You have to bring your hard hat every game and that's what makes March so much fun. Everybody is going to have an opportunity."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 22, 2019

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