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.
Last week was the #3 vs #14 matchup, and it, like the 2/15 matchup, was a blowout win for the high point total. We continue down the path here to bring the two seeds a little closer together, so let’s see if that alters the polling.
Ready? Let’s see the matchup!
#4 Seed: 45 points vs #14 Buffalo on December 21, 2018
Result: #20 Marquette won, 103-85
Full Markus Howard Statline: 30 minutes, 45 points on 12-for-25 shooting (3-for-12 on twos, 9-for-13 on threes), 12-for-12 on free throws, five rebounds, four assists, six turnovers
Markus Howard had five points at halftime, and five turnovers, too.
He had 40 points in the second half. He scored 24 of them in a five-and-a-half minute stretch late in the game where he personally outscored Buffalo by 10 points. I’ll say it again: No one else on MU’s roster scored for nearly six minutes, and Marquette increased their lead against the #14 team in the country by 10 points. I’m not even going to bother explaining anything further here. If you think that’s good, then vote for this game as the better of the two.
#13 Seed: 33 points vs Creighton on March 3rd, 2019
Result: #10 Marquette lost, 66-60
Full Markus Howard Statline: 39 minutes, 33 points on 11-for-21 shooting (7-for-10 on twos, 4-for-11 on threes), 7-for-9 on free throws, two rebounds, three assists, six turnovers, two steals
This is unrelated to considering whether or not this is a better Markus Howard game than the other one, but let’s ask the important question here: HOW IN THE HELL did Marquette get literally half their points from Howard and lose? I suppose the answer there is actually “well, if the 33 points was actually 40% or 45% of their points, they would have won” which points fingers elsewhere, but you get what I’m saying here.
Howard got 21 of his points all in a row late in the first half, ripping that streak off to counter Creighton taking an eight point lead early in it. After Howard his a three to end his run of 21 straight points for the Golden Eagles, MU was up one with 72 seconds left in the first half.
Four of his 12 second half points came late to flatten out a four point Creighton lead and keep Marquette in the game as they were fighting against their own turnovers to win this game. Part of the turnover problem in the game does lay on Howard’s shoulders, as four of his giveaways came in the second half, and two of those came in the final four minutes. Both were horrifically timed, as one came with Marquette up two and the other with Creighton up four. They both immediately turned into Bluejay points, and while Howard tacked on three points in the final minute, it wasn’t enough to grab this win.
With the exception of the turnovers, this was an amazing performance from Howard. The same can be said for the rest of the team, though, and that’s how you end up taking a loss like this.
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!