MILWAUKEE (AP) — Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski’s message to his club at halftime Wednesday night was that it needed to be tougher. It needed to be more physical.
Koby McEwen scored a game-high 23 points and the Marquette Golden Eagles rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat the Purdue Boilermakers 65-55 as part of the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games between the Big Ten and Big East.
Markus Howard added 18 points for Marquette (2-0), which outscored Purdue 40-17 in the second half to capture its first-ever victory against the Boilermakers. The Golden Eagles were 0-9 all-time against Purdue entering the night.
“It’s great because this year’s team beat a hell of a program,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “We’re not concerned about a year ago or two years ago or three years ago. That has nothing to do with this group.”
Matt Haarms had 14 points to lead the Boilermakers (1-2) who dropped their second straight game after a season-opening victory against Green Bay.
“It’s unacceptable,” said Haarms, who also had eight rebounds. “We gotta get it better. That’s all it is.”
Purdue, which also got 13 points from Jahaad Proctor, scored the game’s first nine points and led by as many as 18. But after trailing 38-25 at halftime, Marquette opened the second half on a 29-14 run and took a 54-52 lead, its first of the night, on a layup by Sacar Anim with 4:43 to go.
The Golden Eagles got key contributions down the stretch, including two free throws and a step-back jumper from Howard and McEwan, who went 6-for-7 from the foul line in the second half.
“Just everything was about toughness plays and defense,” said McEwen, who scored 18 of his 23 in the second half. “Once we got the message we went out there and did it and executed and it worked out in our favor.”
Howard was presented a special game ball by Wojciechowski before tipoff for becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer. The senior guard eclipsed the 2,000-point mark on Wednesday. Howard now has 2,011 points for his career.
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Purdue, which opened the season as the No. 23-ranked team in the AP poll, now is searching for answers after blowing a huge lead on the road and losing two straight. The Boilermakers shot 9 of 21 from the free-throw line on Wednesday.
“We blew the game,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We were 3 for 10 at halftime from the free throw line. We have three fast-break layups, we get nothing out of. We should be up 20 points at halftime. We should have had the game at a distance.”
The Golden Eagles held Purdue to just 20% (5-of-20) shooting and 10% (1-of-10) from long range in the second half.
“A 28-point swing in a game is a huge swing,” Wojciechowski said. “It takes character to do that. I thought our players and team and program showed great character against an outstanding program. I was very proud of that.”
Purdue: Hosts Chicago State on Saturday.
Marquette: Plays at Wisconsin on Sunday.