Marquette's most complete performance of the Steve Wojciechowski era produced a signature non-conference win at a sold out Fiserv Forum last night, as the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles dominated a previously unbeaten No. 14 Buffalo team, 103-85.
While the show-stealer was Markus Howard, who asserted his case for All-American and maybe even Naismith College Player of the Year with 40 second-half points and 45 overall, Marquette (10-2) stayed in the game before Howard's offensive explosion with impressive performances from Theo John and Sam and Joey Hauser. John recorded a career-high seven blocks, all of them authoritative, to go with nine rebounds and six points. Sam Hauser's 18 points forced Buffalo to respect someone other than Howard, while nine of Joey Hauser's 11 came on three-consecutive three pointers late in the first half, taking a Marquette team that had started slowly from down four, 27-23, to its first lead.
It was still Howard's night to shine, however. Beginning with a four-point play at the 7:11 mark, Howard would account for 24-straight second-half Marquette points, growing MU's lead from 10 to an insurmountable 20 by the time he ended the run with a three-pointer at 1:44. After accumulating two quick fouls and sitting much of the first half, Howard finished the night 12-for-25 from the floor, including 9-of-13 from outside, and a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line.
Jeremy Harris led Buffalo (11-1) with 22 points, while Dontay Caruthers scored 20 and CJ Massinburg had 18. The Bulls had a three-point lead with 15 minutes left in the game and were within two with just under 10 minutes left before a 12-0 Marquette run, including the start of Howard's scoring streak, turned the tide.
The win is Marquette's third over a top-15 ranked opponent (Kansas State and Wisconsin) this season, with all of those wins coming at a Fiserv Forum where Marquette is yet to lose. The heavily promoted contest between ranked teams managed to fill the new Forum to a building-record capacity of 17,567, despite many Marquette students being off on holiday break.
MU gets to take a week off for Christmas before facing Southern, currently 1-11, in a game tipping at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 27.
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Video: Fox Sports