If the Bradley Center were still standing, and you put the first half of Wednesday’s Marquette/Purdue game in it, you might have thought it was a continuation of a 2017 Gavitt Games meeting where the Boilermakers dominated MU for an 86-71 victory that wasn’t as close as the score.
There were two big differences this time around: The game was in Fiserv Forum, and Marquette had Koby McEwen.
After a first half that saw Marquette down as many as 18, Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski told the junior Utah State transfer the team needed him to be, “ … more aggressive.” McEwen responded, scoring 18 of his game-high 23 points and joining his teammates in holding the Boilermakers to just 17 second-half points on 5-of-25 shooting as Marquette turned the tables on Purdue for a 65-55 victory in the 2019 edition of the Gavitt Games Wednesday night.
Markus Howard added 18 points to join McEwen as the only players in double-figures for Marquette (2-0) while also becoming the first male player in Marquette history to eclipse the 2,000 point mark, having surpassed Jerel McNeal as the program’s all-time leading scorer in Marquette’s previous game against Loyola (Md.). However, McEwen stole the show in the second half, going 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from outside. Purdue was forced to respect McEwen’s ability to slash in the paint, which both opened up his teammates and put the Boilermakers in foul trouble, creating exploitable matchups.
Theo John, plagued by foul trouble most of his first two seasons at Marquette, stayed on the floor for the entirety of the second half while scoring six points, grabbing nine rebounds and turning Boilermaker big man Matt Haarms into a non-factor with defense.
Sasha Stefanovic hit a three-pointer with 1:59 left in the first half to give Purdue (1-2) its largest lead of the game at 38-20. Marquette ended the first half with a 5-0 run, however, and kept the momentum through halftime. After chipping away at the Boilermakers’ advantage through the second half, Marquette brought the game level for the first time since 0-0 with a McEwen three-pointer at 6:26 to tie the game at 49, then took its first lead a minute and 21 seconds later with a Sacar Anim jumper in the lane. Unbeknownst to anyone in the building, Purdue had already scored its last field goal at that point, as the Boilermakers would go without a bucket in the final 6:03 of the contest, while Marquette wouldn’t trail again.
Haarms led Purdue scorers with 14 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, but only got to take three shots in the second half as the Boilermakers simply couldn’t get him the basketball. Jahaad Proctor joined Haarms in double-digits with 13.
Next up for Marquette is its biggest rival, in-state foe Wisconsin, Sunday at the Kohl Center. Coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. on 97.3 The Game and The Big 920, with tipoff at noon.