MILWAUKEE — There have been times when guard Markus Howard can't tell Marquette teammates Sam and Joey Hauser apart.
They have similar builds and games, along with a familiarity on the floor that comes with playing a lot of basketball together.
The brotherly bond has given a boost to the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles, who are off to an 8-2 start while weathering nonconference tests.
"The fact that they're related — for one they look just alike, I always get them confused," said Howard, the team's leading scorer. "But the fact that they've played together for so long, and they kind of know each other's tendencies, it really shows on the court."
Sam, a junior, is the elder Hauser, a 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 14.1 points and 7.0 rebounds going into a game Tuesday night against North Dakota. What he lacks in flash, he makes up for in consistency and the ability to fill multiple roles.
His 13 points and career-high 14 rebounds in 41 minutes in an overtime win over Wisconsin might have been one of the best games of his career. Hauser also had four assists and a steal with no turnovers.
"In my opinion, Sam is one of the most underappreciated players in the United States. Sam is all about winning," coach Steve Wojciechowski said after the 74-69 victory over the Badgers on Dec. 8. "He's an absolute joy to coach."
Sam Hauser started since his freshman year, much like what his brother is doing now.
A touted recruit who helped his high school in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, win three straight state titles, Joey Hauser ended up enrolling at Marquette for the spring 2018 semester after an ankle injury sidelined him for his senior prep season.
Getting to the Marquette campus early aided in his recovery after being able to work with the team's trainers, not to mention the opportunity to assimilate early to college life and practice ahead of an important 2018-19 season. Playing home games at a new downtown arena, the Golden Eagles have the talent and depth to contend in the Big East and return to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.
"In high school, you can get away with some things that you can't get away with in college," Sam Hauser said in the preseason. "We were the biggest ones in high school. Now if you look at our team, we're right in the middle of the pack. The play style is different, the speed."
They know each other's strengths and weaknesses, though they might not divulge the latter in public.
"On the court, it just helps us play off each other. We're looking for each other on the court. We both know that we can shoot the ball if we're open," Joey Hauser said.
He also knows to feed Sam down low. And there might even be a pass back out to the perimeter, if Joey is open.
"You've got to get the ball to him and get the ball into the post," the younger Hauser said. "It's playing off each other and playing off our teammates ... something we think we're definitely good at."
The 6-9 Joey Hauser (10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds) seems to be getting acclimated quite nicely. He showed poise against the Badgers with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3 of 5 from the 3-point arc while sometimes being guarded by preseason All-American big man Ethan Happ.
It's not unusual to Sam, though. The brothers have seen each other hit big shots from everywhere — from the playground to the Fiserv Forum.
"We still have that chemistry between us being brothers, knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are," Joey Hauser said. "That will always be the same."