Friar Basketball

A Big One Awaits on Saturday

Dukve vs. Howard Marquette Athletics Marquette Athletics

Opportunity awaits Providence on Saturday afternoon. The Friars, winners of four of their last six games, have played their way back onto the bubble thanks to an 8-6 mark in 14 conference games to date, with the most recent win coming on the road at Georgetown on Wednesday. With #19 Marquette coming to the Dunk for a noon tip, Providence has a chance for its fourth straight win over a nationally ranked team.

These two were engaged in a good one back in early January. Providence snuck out of Milwaukee with an 81-80 overtime victory, as AJ Reeves buried a late 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, and Kalif Young put PC ahead with 35 seconds left in the extra session. Three Friars scored in double figures off of the bench, with Maliek White leading the team with 19 points.

Markus Howard, the nation’s second leading scorer and surefire All American, scored 39 points on 14-33 shooting.

What a career it has been for Howard. Of course, Friar fans will always remember his 52 point explosion at the Dunk two years ago. That was one of many explosive nights for the point guard who came to Marquette at 17 years old, and has now scored more points in Big East games than anyone in league history. Howard was once an Arizona State verbal, but he will forever be remembered as one of the best scorers in Big East history.

His twelve Big East Player of the Week awards is a league record, and with 20 points on Saturday he will pass Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Joe Dumars (McNeese St.), Don McClean (UCLA), Mark Macon (Temple), and Calbert Cheaney (Indiana) on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list.

As seems to be the case every year, Marquette is dangerous behind the 3-point arc. Synergy Sports has them in the 95th percentile nationally in spot up scoring, and they are 15th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage. Their 10.1 deep ones a game are top ten in the country.

Providence will have to account for Sacar Anim (a 13 point per game scorer who shoots 40% from deep), a versatile scorer in Koby McEwen (10.6 ppg), and the sharpshooting of wing Brendan Bailey. Bailey knocked down four threes against the Friars in January, and finished with 19 points.

Marquette will bring a sense of purpose on Saturday, after having lost its last two games (a one point loss at Villanova and a 73-65 decision to the league’s hottest team in Creighton). Howard was held scoreless in the first half against Creighton and shot 4-14 for the game.

The Golden Eagles have an opportunity to finish strong, with three of their final five games coming against Georgetown, St. John’s, and DePaul.

A strong close is required for Providence if they want to keep their NCAA tournament dreams alive. With four games to play, a 3-1 finish is likely the minimum requirement, but Ed Cooley has been hammering away at his team to bring desperation and focus to every game, ignoring what’s down the road.

Cooley’s seniors have responded over the past week. Alpha Diallo is the reigning Big East Player of the Week, and Young was outstanding Wednesday at Georgetown.

With another top 25 guest in the building and a resurgent home team, this has the makings of a wild afternoon at the Dunk.