Let’s have some fun, shall we?
Sports are supposed to be fun. Ever since the calendar turned to March, things have been Not Fun for Marquette basketball fans, so we’re going to change that up right here and now. Plus, it’s the offseason, and we’ve got to get to August somehow, right?
THE MARKUS HOWARD 30 POINT GAME TOURNAMENT
It’s a very simple concept. Marquette guard Markus Howard is a fireball of a scoring machine. He’s had seventeen 30+ point games in his three season collegiate career, which is nearly the exact perfect number of games to have a fun bracket tournament to decide which of his 30+ point games was actually the best one.
We’ve sorted and seeded his 30+ point games in order by point total. The 53 point game against Creighton this past season? #1 seed. His 30 point game against St. John’s in the Big East tournament this past season? #17 seed. We made some tiebreakers along the way to decide between a few of the seeds. For example: Howard has had three 33 point games. The first tiebreaker was whether Marquette won or lost the game, with a win getting a better seed. Next was turnovers, with the game with the fewer turnovers getting the better seed. After all, we’re trying to figure out which scoring game was his best one, and turning the ball over is not helpful to scoring a lot of points. In one case, we had to go to another tiebreaker, and we went with assists there. Yes, it’s not a scoring thing, per se, but it helps define what was a better game for Howard overall more than anything else we could have possibly used.
Since we have 17 performances to use in this tournament, that means we have a play-in game. #16 takes on #17, with the winner advancing to face off against #1 in the next round. It will be completely decided by votes from you, the reader, as to which game advances.
Ready? Let’s see the play-in game matchup, shall we?
#16 SEED: 31 points at Xavier on January 26, 2019
Result: Marquette won, 87-82
Full Markus Howard Statline: 37 minutes, 31 points on 10-for-22 shooting (6-for-13 on twos, 4-for-9 on threes), 7-for-8 on free throws, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, two steals.
Xavier led this game by as many as seven in the first half before Marquette scored seven straight (including a layup from Howard) to knot it at 30. It was still tied, 39-all, at the half, but Xavier grabbed the advantage back early in the second half, taking a 53-44 lead with 16 minutes to go and then going up 11 shortly thereafter.
At the under-8 media timeout, Xavier led, 67-61. Over the final 7:22 of the game, Howard racked up nine of his 31 points, scoring in multiple ways and icing the game with a pair of freebies with nine seconds left to put Marquette back up by five. His only three-pointer of that final stretch was kind of dagger-y, putting Marquette up 79-71 with 2:01 to play. That’s a 14 point turnaround by the Golden Eagles in a little over five minutes of action to secure the victory, their seventh straight overall and third road win in league play, and move to 7-1 in the Big East and 18-3 overall.
#17 SEED: 30 points vs St. John’s on March 14, 2019 in the Big East Tournament
Result: Marquette won, 86-54.
Full Markus Howard Statline: 30 minutes, 30 points on 8-for-15 shooting (5-for-9 on twos, 3-for-6 on threes), 11-for-11 on free throws, seven rebounds, four assists, six turnovers.
I’m just going to turn this portion of our programme over to Ben Snider, and what he wrote in the recap of this game:
What stuck out to me about [Markus Howard’s] performance today was that he was forceful, but patient. He was like those pictures of alligators with a cute bird on their nose. He waited for the perfect moment to strike and did not miss. From 14:36 to 11:46 he scored 12 of Marquette’s 14 points without missing a shot, including an acrobatic layup over 2 defenders with size advantages. He had that, “Yeah you’re just not stopping me” look in his eyes and finished the game in the blink of an eye. The team didn’t look back from there.
With 14:37 left in the game, Marquette led by six points after leading by as many as 14 in the first half. With 11:46 left to go, Marquette was up 18. Howard’s 12 in that run was the differential between the two margins, and he did that 1) in a game that Marquette desperately needed to win after losing their final four regular season games and 2) against an opponent that had, historically speaking, given him absolute and total fits, and had also beaten Marquette in both regular season meetings.
It was a big performance in a big spot both on a personal level and on a team level.
Which performance by Markus Howard was better? Cast your vote! Polling will stay open until Friday at midnight CT, so tell your friends to vote, too!
Which Markus Howard 30 point game was better?
This poll is closed
#16 seed: 31 points at Xavier (1/26/19)
#17 seed: 30 points vs St. John’s (3/14/19)