ORLANDO — Long before Markus Howard and his Marquette teammates began their rout of Southern California on Friday, the Maryland Terrapins returned to the team hotel, a short drive from where Howard’s brilliance took center stage. The 5-foot-11 senior guard paid no mind to the hands in his face or a defense that zeroed in on stopping him. His shots kept splashing through the basket, nine times from beyond the arc and all the way to 51 points.

Maryland’s Darryl Morsell, a defensive-minded player frequently tasked with guarding the opponent’s best scorer, watched at least bits of the game from afar, noting how quickly Howard racked up 20 points. He needed just over 10 minutes. A day earlier, when the Golden Eagles faced Davidson, Howard had 40 points.

During the Southern Cal game, an arena announcer informed the crowd that Howard had broken the three-game Orlando Invitational scoring record. He did so in two games. No. 5 Maryland is the next team facing the task of stopping, slowing or in any way containing this scoring sensation.

“He’s quick, and he’s efficient,” Morsell said. “... I know when he puts it up, it’s a high percentage that it’s going to go in. So we’re going to have to pick him up early, chase him off the three-point line and try to make his night as long as possible.”

The Marquette team that the Terps will face Sunday in the tournament championship game isn’t ranked but will be the best opponent Maryland (7-0) has played. While Maryland had to come back from sluggish starts to win its first two games, beating Temple and Harvard, the Golden Eagles (5-1) rode their standout senior to double-digit wins, including an emphatic, 101-79 victory over the Trojans.

Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon called Maryland’s previous two foes NCAA tournament-caliber teams, and he will see another one Sunday. This time, the opponent boasts one of the nation’s top players, a preview of what the Terps will take on later this season when they face Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston.

For Maryland to have a chance to win Sunday, it will have to find a way to push Howard into a performance less productive than his other two outings here.

“I think our competitive edge and our attention to detail has been really good,” Howard said Saturday. “So I think just preparing the right way has been what’s made us successful these past couple days.”

With those two games, Howard became the first player in Big East history to score at least 40 points in back-to-back games and one of four players from a major conference team ever to do so, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Howard has averaged 29.3 points this season. He deflects the spotlight and praise to the players who surround him, but his accomplishments are undeniable. Howard became Marquette’s all-time leading scorer in this year’s season opener. He’s a preseason all-American. Last season, when he averaged 25.0 points, Howard was unanimously voted Big East player of the year. In his four-year career at Marquette, he has shot 45.3 percent.

The Terps won’t overlook Marquette’s other offensive threats, Morsell said, but behind Howard, the team’s next-highest scorer is Koby McEwen at 12.2 points. Only one other player, Sacar Anim, averages more than six points.

Morsell said Saturday he hadn’t been told that he will be the player who primarily guards Howard, but he is the one who has gotten the call when Maryland has faced Howard-like scoring threats. Maryland probably will switch other players onto Howard, so containing him will be a group effort.

“There's only so much you can do on the little guys,” Turgeon said. “It's easier to take big guys out of the game than it is little guys, but Darryl takes a lot of pride in it. We'll be fired up to play against Marquette because they're a good team and that kid's special.”

The Terps have experience defending high-volume scorers. When Maryland took down then-No. 12 Purdue last season, the Terps, specifically Morsell, forced Carsen Edwards into an 8-for-27 shooting performance that still yielded 24 points. Maryland managed to defeat Belmont in the 2019 NCAA tournament even though Dylan Windler scored 35 points and hit 7 of 14 three-point attempts. Even as recently as Maryland’s previous game, the Terps had to guard a sure shooter: Harvard’s Bryce Aiken has averaged more than 20 points this season and last. He scored 30 against the Terps, who earned an 80-73 win.

Asked recently what has surprised him most this season, Turgeon said, “Our defense is a little further along than I thought it would be, and our ability to run multiple defenses as effectively as we’ve done it.”

Under Turgeon at Maryland, according to Sports-Reference.com, only five players have scored 30 or more points against the Terps. Only two — Aiken and Windler — have done so in the past six seasons. So Maryland might have the right tools to contain Howard.

When Turgeon met with reporters Saturday, he said he hadn’t watched the video of Marquette’s game against Southern Cal and thus hadn’t seen Howard’s 51-point showing. He planned to watch Saturday night, and he was more interested in the games in which opponents guarded Howard well. But Turgeon still joked about the odds, which might help the Terps as much as their scheme.

“I’m glad he had 50," he said. "It’s hard to have back-to-back 50s.”