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.
We had a close battle in the 6/11 game last week. Will we get the same experience this week? Only time will tell!
Ready? Let’s see the matchup!
#7 Seed: 37 points at #3 Villanova Wildcats on January 6, 2018
Result: Marquette lost, 100-90
Full Markus Howard Statline: 38 minutes, 37 points on 13-for-27 shooting (8-for-14 on twos, 5-for-13 on threes), 6-for-6 on free throws, four rebounds, eight assists, two turnovers, one steal
Howard shot twice as many shots in the second half as he did in the first, and he ended up with more than twice as many points. Wild how that works. He had 26 of his 37 points after the break, and while he was pretty good, Marquette didn’t keep this game interesting because of him. If you go back through the play-by-play, the big shots that pulled Marquette closer and closer after being down 15 early in the second half just kept on not being from Howard.
Obviously, the rest of the team doesn’t get into positions to hit those big shots without the Arizona native clearing the deck a bit, but we really can’t point to a big run from here that helped the Golden Eagles rally. The best we can do is a pair of free throws that cut it to a seven point game with just barely under a minute left to go and an and-1 shortly thereafter that answered two Phill booth free throws and trimmed the lead to just six with 50 seconds left to go. The game wasn’t completely out of the question at that point, and while it mostly wasn’t Howard all game long to hit the big turning point shots, MU was still on the verge of knocking off the Wildcats without his explosion.
#10 Seed: 34 points vs Vermont Catamounts on December 5, 2017
Result: Marquette won, 91-81
Full Markus Howard Statline: 29 minutes, 34 points on 11-for-20 shooting (5-for-9 on twos, 6-for-11 on threes), 6-for-6 on free throws, six rebounds, two assists, one turnover, one steal
Two personal fouls by the 9:24 mark of the first half limited Howard to just half of the available minutes before halftime. He had 13 points already, and had missed only one shot, one of his four long range attempts. The half ended with MU leading a very good Vermont squad by just one point, 42-41.
And then the second half started, and because you can do simple arithmetic, you know Howard went off after the break. He knocked in 21 of his 34 points in the second half, shooting a perfectly great effective field goal percentage of 53.6% and putting away all six of his free throw attempts to allow the Golden Eagles to outdistance the Catamounts by the final horn.
In particular, Howard scored eight of MU’s final 11 points of the game — only a Sam Hauser three broke it up — as Marquette turned a four point lead into a 10 point margin by the end. In fact, he had 14 of his 34 after Vermont had cut Marquette’s double digit lead early in the second half down to just two points with 13 minutes left to play.
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!