Marquette didn’t seem to miss the school’s all-time leading scorer in the opener against Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Wednesday. However, the Golden Eagles may face a bit more competition when they host Eastern Michigan on Friday in Milwaukee.
Markus Howard averaged a nation-best 27.8 points last season, but Marquette (1-0) didn’t seem to care that the sharpshooter graduated, jumping to a 50-18 halftime advantage Wednesday and cruising to a 99-57 home victory.
Six players scored in double figures, led by 6-foot-11 freshman Dawson Garcia, a McDonald’s All-American who finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists. Jamal Cain added 16 points, Theo John 13 and Koby McEwen 12.
“We had 20 assists on 29 made field goals,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “One of the things that this group should do is we should have a lot more offensive balance, where on a given night, many different guys could be the leading scorer.”
Marquette struggled on the defensive end last year, especially in conference play and down the stretch, but the 6-9 John recorded 12 rebounds and five blocks in 23 minutes to lead a defense that held the Golden Lions to 27.3 percent shooting while forcing 16 turnovers.
“That’s a product of us just taking pride on the defensive end,” John said. “It’s something that we want to make sure we’re taking steps in this year, and you saw the first step of that tonight.”
Eastern Illinois (0-1) trailed by 23 points at halftime in its opener Wednesday at Wisconsin but played a solid second half in dropping a 77-67 decision.
Josiah Wallace scored 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting and Jordan Skipper-Brown added 14 points and three steals off the bench for the Panthers. Eastern Illinois was picked third in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll after finishing 17-15 last season, including 9-9 in conference play.
The 6-4 Wallace was All Ohio-Valley Conference in each of his first two seasons, averaging 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists combined in the two seasons.
“He’s had a really, really great career,” Eastern Illinois coach Jay Spoonhour said. “When we need baskets — and any time we’ve done anything the last few years — he’s gone and gotten it done.”
Wallace will get offensive support from seniors Mack Smith (13.4 points per game last season) and George Dixon (11 ppg, 8.8 rebounds per game — second in the OVC).
–Field Level Media