On Tuesday night, when Marquette kicked off their 2019-20 season, senior guard Markus Howard was 30 points away from tying and 31 points away from breaking Jerel McNeal’s all-time Marquette scoring record of 1,985 points.
It took the Chandler, Arizona, native exactly 20 minutes and 53 seconds of game time to get the 31 points that he needed.
It almost didn’t take him that long.
Howard opened up the game against Loyola Maryland by scoring MU’s first bucket of the game, and then, after a Sacar Anim layup, Howard ripped off 17 straight points. Not 17 straight for Marquette, 17 straight in the game. Marquette was up 21-0 in the contest, and 19 of them were from Howard. The game had 13:49 left in the first half, and Howard was already just 11 points away from a tie with McNeal.
He did this in just eight shots. He missed one.
Three free throws at the 9:58 mark pulled him into single digit territory, and more impressively, he did this with what appeared to be only one contact lens properly in place. He had been fouled shortly before the foul that gave him the freebies, and immediately rubbed at his eye. He got fouled on the long range shot, motioned at his eye to the bench, nailed all three free throws, and then subbed out and was handed a contact lens case.
I’m not kidding here.
At the five minute mark, Howard trimmed the margin to just six points, and it dipped to five thanks to the and-1 foul from Loyola’s Isaiah Hart. A three with 3:37 to go meant Howard was just two points away from McNeal’s mark. 28 points in just 16 minutes and 23 seconds of elapsed game time, and he wasn’t even on the court for all of it.
It looked like Howard wasn’t going to get a chance to put the record away in the first half, but he got free enough to shoot as time wound down on the half..... and then Chuck Champion fouled him. Or, well, at least Noted Good Referee Pat Driscoll felt there was enough contact to blow the whistle, giving one of the best free throw shooters in the country a chance to drain three freebies to tie and then break the program’s record.
Up and in. Up and in. Up and..... off to the side.
Horn sounds, halftime, MU up 44-15, Howard sitting on 30 points and deadlocked into a tie with McNeal.
I said it in the recap, I will say it here, too: I will go to my grave insisting that Markus Howard missed that third one on purpose in order to get the record on a run-of-play shot.
He got it, just 53 seconds into the second half, on Marquette’s second possession coming out of the locker room. As befitting a scorer of his ability and skill, it came on a pull-up three-pointer in transition.
Because the Marquette athletic department is run by smart and intelligent people, they made sure to get a pre-recorded video from Jerel McNeal, presumably when he was on campus for training camp for The Basketball Tournament.
That gave Howard 33 points on the night as well as the new career scoring record. He would tally five more points to finish with 38 and thus set the record at 1,993 points for the time being. Howard threw together a night of 38 points on 11-for-20 shooting in 26 minutes, going 7-for-10 from behind the arc and 9-of-10 (just that one lone miss at the end of the half, eh?) from the free throw line. He added five rebounds, two assists, and a steal to his record breaking night.
Congrats to you, Markus! Long may you reign as Marquette’s scoring champ.