The Eastern Illinois men's basketball team will have its hands full when they travel to Milwaukee to take on Marquette University since the Golden Eagles might have the best offense that the Panthers see this season. Plus Marquette has one of the best scorers in the country currently.
Andrew Rowsey comes into the game as the sixth-leading scorer in the nation, averaging 24.8 points per game. It's the second time in his career that Rowsey has averaged 20 or more points. As a freshman at UNC Asheville, he averaged 20.3 points and then 19.2 points per game as a sophomore. He then transferred to Marquette, sat out a season and averaged 11.6 points last season.
Rowsey scored 20 points against VCU, his lowest total of the season through five games. He is coming off a 30-point game against LSU on Wednesday. Rowsey is shooting 43.4 percent from the field, including 40 percent (18-of-45) from behind the arc. Rowsey lives at the line. He has 43 free throws attempted this season and is 15th in the nation in free throws made with 40, so he has only missed three free throws this season.
But he's not Marquette's only weapon. Markus Howard is averaging 18.4 points per game this season. In three of the five games this season, Howard has scored 22 or more points with a season-high 25 against Wichita State. He scored 10 points against LSU on Wednesday.
"They have probably have the two best guards right now," EIU coach Jay Spoonhour said. "They are playing as good as anyone in the country. Watching them last week in Hawaii, it was really impressive. It's fun basketball to watch, if you didn't have to try and find a way to guard them."
EIU comes into the game with a 2-3 record, while Marquette is 3-2. The game tips at 7 p.m. Monday at the BMO Harris Center in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles are coached by former Duke star Steve Wojciechowski, who is in his fourth season of coaching Marquette.
Marquette is averaging 81 points per game and is shooting 47.2 percent as a team, including 35.5 percent from behind the arc and 81.7 percent from the free-throw line.
"They came into the season with the team reputation of being the best shooting team in the country," Spoonhour said. "It doesn't take a whole lot to figure out that you have to limit the number of times they get open. You try and contest them the best you can. If they ever do miss it, you have to chase the ball down because you can't give them multiple opportunities. Both teams get the ball the same number of times, so you can't let them maximize possessions."
The Panthers have done a good job of rebounding in most of their games this season. Marquette is averaging only 29.4 rebounds per game and has a rebounding margin of negative three. EIU is averaging 36 rebounds per game.
Jajuan Starks leads EIU with 6.0 rebounds per game and Muusa Dama is averaging 4.8 rebounds a game.
"I like the way that Jajuan is going after it. Muusa's been in foul trouble, but his rebounds per minute are good. I think (Aboubacar Diallo) has been good rebounding," Spoonhour said. "The guards need to chase the ball down because if Marquette does miss, they are going to be longer rebounds and our guards have to go get it."
Starks leads EIU with 14.8 points per game and Terrell Lewis is averaging 10.0 points a game. Lewis enters the game with 987 career points, needing only 13 points to become the 37th player in EIU history to join the 1,000-point club. He has 484 career assists and is already the EIU career leader in that category, and his 204 3-pointers rank fifth all-time in EIU history.