Markus Howard has been virtually unstoppable and helped put Marquette into the Orlando Invitational championship game.
Howard scored 51 points as Marquette beat Southern California 101-79 on Friday and advanced to play No. 5 Maryland.
“We’re playing for something bigger,” Howard said about his individual accomplishment. “I said not to lose focus on what we came here to do. We came here to try to win a championship and that’s all we came here to do.”
Howard set a tournament record for the second straight game after having a 40-point performance in a 73-63 victory over Davidson in the first round Thursday. The previous mark was 38, set by Marquette’s Matt Carlino against Georgia Tech in 2014.
“Just another incredible performance,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “It’s the best we’ve played offensively. Obviously, when you have a guy score 50, the offense is going to look better. But even without the 50 points, there was a rhythm and flow to our offense.”
The senior guard, with one game remaining, also shattered the tournament-record overall point total of 77 established by Monmouth’s Justin Robertson in 2015.
Howard’s third career game of 50 or more points ended with 5:36 left when he made a free throw following a layup to complete a three-point play. He left to a standing ovation.
Trailing 11-6 early on, Marquette (5-1) put together a nearly half-long surge behind Howard’s 26 points to go up 57-36 at the break.
Marquette also got 11 points from Greg Elliott.
Isaiah Mobley had 15 points and nine rebounds for USC (6-2). The Trojans had two player technical fouls during the second half.
“We didn’t play well,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “We really had trouble stopping Howard and what he did to our defense. But it’s one game, it’s one loss, so we have to bounce back mentally and physically.”
USC guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. is expected to miss at least four weeks following surgery for a left hand injury. The son of former UCLA standout Charles O’Bannon was hurt at practice Monday.
USC: After the Trojans held Fairfield to 27% shooting in a 54-47 win Thursday, Marquette shot 48.5% (32-66) against USC. The Golden Eagles were 14 for 29 (48.3%) from threee-point range.
Marquette: Broke the invitational mark for team points held by Oklahoma State, which had 97 against Purdue in 2013. Going under the radar was the impressive three-point defense, which limited USC to three for 12, with all the made shots coming in the second half. The Golden Eagles held Davidson to 0 for 14 on Thursday.
Marquette and Maryland square off Sunday.
USC and Harvard will play Sunday in the third-place game.