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The Markus Howard 30 Point Game Tournament: #5 vs #12

Two scoring outputs in the 30s meet up to see which one advances.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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?

INTRODUCING

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.

The #4 seed easily outpaced the #13 seed last week to advance. That expended three of the four 40+ point games in the tournament. We have four more games in this round with point totals all in the 30s, so we’ll see if we get an upset along the way here.

Ready? Let’s see the matchup!

#5 Seed: 38 points vs #14 Villanova on February 9th, 2019

Result: #10 Marquette won, 66-65

Full Markus Howard Statline: 38 minutes, 28 points on 13-for-24 shooting (8-for-13 on twos, 5-for-11 on threes), 7-for-7 on free throws, six rebounds, two assists, five turnovers

Thanks to 21 points from Howard on 50% shooting in the first 20 minutes, Marquette held a 30-26 halftime lead on the #14 ranked Wildcats on National Marquette Day this past season. Yes, that’s right, 21 of their 30 points, as only two other Golden Eagles scored. Eight of Howard’s 17 second half points came in the final six minutes and change after the Golden Eagles had given up first a 10-0 run and then an 11-0 run to dump a 15 point lead into the trash and trail by two, 55-53.

Two freebies by Howard with 53 seconds remaining put MU up 66-63, but Phil Booth answered to cut the lead back to one. Marquette ball, 44 seconds left. Thankfully, the shot clock allowed the Golden Eagles to burn most of that time off as Nova was willing to take their chances on getting a stop and a chance to win.

They got exactly that, as Howard committed a turnover, letting Saddiq Bey pick his pocket and give Villanova a chance to win. That chance got even greater when Howard and Sacar Anim got twisted up on their defensive assignment on Booth on the other end, with Howard bailing out from in front of Booth to return to a wide open Collin Gillespie, leaving Booth to head to the rim. Only an adroit step up by Ed Morrow forced a pass and an off balance missed shot by Jermaine Samuels that allowed MU to escape with the win.

It’s a hard game to measure in terms of a tournament like this. Marquette absolutely does not win without Howard dragging them to a lead in the first half as well as fending off VU late...... but two missteps in the final minute by Howard also almost cost the Golden Eagles the win.

VERSUS

#12 Seed: 33 points at #8 Xavier on January 24th, 2018

Result: Marquette lost, 89-70

Full Markus Howard Statline: 36 minutes, 33 points on 14-for-27 shooting (11-for-17 on twos, 3-for-10 on threes) 2-for-4 on free throws, three rebounds, two assists, two turnovers, one block, two steals

Good news: Markus Howard was very good in this game, using a very good two-point shooting game to balance out a slightly not great three-point shooting game to rack up 33 points. Even though Marquette got whipsawed across the span of 40 minutes as you can see from that final score, Howard still played well enough to get the MVP nod from KenPom.com in the losing effort.

Bad news: He got 24 points in the first half, which ended with Marquette trailing 51-33. That ended up being pretty much it for the Golden Eagles in the game, and if it wasn’t, the 12-2 run that the Musketeers put together early in the second half pretty much put a nail in the coffin for the night. A really great game by Howard overall went to waste as MU went to Cincinnati and got run out of the building by a really great team that they went toe-to-toe with in Milwaukee just a month earlier.

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!