So what can Markus Howard do for an encore in Orlando?
A senior guard for Marquette, Howard made history for the Golden Eagles in the second round of the Orlando Invitational on Friday, scoring 51 points to become the third major conference player to record a 50-point game in three straight seasons in Marquette’s 101-79 win over Southern Cal.
Now, Howard will try to be a one-man wrecking crew against a national-title contender when Marquette plays No. 5 Maryland in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s just continually trying to read the game,” Howard told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about his performance against USC. “I was trying to make the best decision out there. No matter what, I want to continue to maintain my aggressiveness. No matter who we’re playing against. No matter what defenses I see, I want to continue to be aggressive. My teammates and coaches give me the freedom to do that. When they give you that confidence, I feel no pressure at all. Just be myself and play aggressive.”
Howard hopes to be aggressive against what’s been a stout defense at Maryland to start the season.
The Terrapins have given up an average of 62.3 points a game thus far this season in starting 7-0.
On the flip side, Maryland will have its biggest challenge going up against Howard, who is averaging 29.3 points a game to help Marquette to a 5-1 start.
“It’s fun to watch,” Marquette sophomore guard Greg Elliott told the Journal-Sentinel. “It feels good to be out there, too, to see him do that. Because you see all the work that he puts in and then it’s like, once he gets in that mode when nothing is hitting the rim and everything is going in, it’s fun to watch.”
Even with an unblemished record and lofty ranking, Maryland still has one major issue to fix that has irked head coach Mark Turgeon.
The Terrapins have been plagued by slow starts this year, something that once again happened during an 80-73 win over Harvard in the second round of the Orlando Invitational on Friday.
Maryland fell behind by 11 points to the Crimson and trailed 47-40 with 14:15 before finding its rhythm, scoring 40 points from that point on to remain unbeaten on the season.
Senior guard Anthony Cowan had a big hand in that, scoring 20 points.
“Anthony bailed us out, made incredible threes,” Turgeon told the Washington Post. “When the game was on the line, our half-court execution was really good again. So, just wish we would do it sooner.”
Maryland will be the third Big Ten opponent Marquette has faced this season.
The Golden Eagles beat Purdue 65-55 before losing at Wisconsin 77-61.
“The starts that we’ve been having are just unacceptable,” Cowan said to the Washington Post. “And we’ve got to be better. We know down the road we’re going to play tougher teams, so we’ve got to figure it out.”
–Field Level Media