Howard rallies No. 12 Marquette over Xavier 87-72

MGN
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CINCINNATI (AP) -- Markus Howard scored 19 of his 31 points down the stretch Saturday as No. 12 Marquette rallied to beat Xavier 87-82 for its seventh consecutive win.

Joey Hauser added 21 points and Sam Hauser had 20 to help Marquette (18-3, 7-1 Big East) overcome Xavier's best offensive showing of the season.

After Xavier (11-10, 3-5) pulled ahead 58-47 with 14 minutes left, Howard hit a pair of baskets that started the comeback. His long 3-pointer put Marquette ahead 79-71 with 1:59 left, and his two free throws with 9.1 seconds left closed it out.

Paul Scruggs scored 21 points for Xavier, and Tyrique Jones matched his career high with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The teams set a wide-open pace from the outset, with Xavier hitting 8 of 11 shots and Marquette 7 of 14. Play wasn't stopped for the first timeout until the 10:40 mark with the Musketeers ahead 22-18. They led by as many as seven before Marquette pulled even 39-39 for halftime .

Xavier's Naji Marshall guarded Howard until an injured right shoulder -- hurt in the last game -- forced him to the bench with 2:21 left in the opening half. He returned for the start of the second half and hit a pair of 3s as Xavier built its 11-point lead.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles' winning streak is their longest in league play since they took seven straight in 2011-12. The No. 12 ranking is their highest since the 2012-13 season.

Xavier: The Musketeers played their best game on offense but continued to struggle in the closing minutes of close games. They fell to 9-4 at the Cintas Center, where they lost one time last season.

UP NEXT

Marquette plays at Butler on Wednesday. The Golden Eagles host the Bulldogs on Feb. 20.

Xavier plays at Georgetown on Thursday. The Musketeers overcame a 17-point deficit and beat Georgetown 81-75 on Jan. 9 at the Cintas Center.