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The Markus Howard 30 Point Game Tournament: #1 vs #9

The biggest event of the summer returns after a week’s break for the quarterfinals.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier 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.

Last time out, the #1 seed wrecked the #17 seed, as could be expected. Now we move into the quarterfinals, where things (hopefully) get a little bit tighter every single time.

Ready? Let’s see the matchup!

#1 Seed: 53 points at Creighton on January 9, 2019

Result: #21 Marquette won, 106-104, in overtime.

Full Markus Howard Statline: 43 minutes, 53 points on 15-for-26 shooting (5-for-12 on twos, 10-for-14 on threes), 13-for-15 on free throws, two rebounds, six assists, nine turnovers, one block

Let’s get straight to the crucial point about this game, shall we? If it were not for Connor Cashaw hilariously throwing the ball out of bounds for no reason with 0.8 seconds remaining and not for Sam Hauser burying a game-tying three-point (that was probably off in time but who can really say), this game would have been the #4 seed in this tournament.

Howard finished regulation with “only” 39 points, so that raises a fascinating issue about this game: What’s more bonkers? The fact that Howard scored 39 points in 38 minutes on 11-for-21 shooting with an effective field goal percentage of 69% in regulation..... orrrrrrr the fact that Howard scored 14 points in five minutes on 4-for-5 shooting with an effective field goal percentage of 110% in overtime?

Given a gift wrapped opportunity to have five more minutes to win this game, Howard somehow actually went more ballistic than he had already went in regulation. MU’s star guard scored the first points of overtime — to create the only lead change in the entire game — and followed up a Theo John block with a three on the other end. Free throws by Martin Krampelj? Pssssh, here’s another three. A three from Davion Mintz? Pssssssssh, here’s another three. Marquette went from down 10 midway through the second and down five with exactly 1.0 second remaining to leading by six with 2:36 left in regulation, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that Markus Howard went full NBA Jam “HE’S ON FIRE!” It’s not just what he did in overtime. 12 of Howard’s points came in the final 4:04 of regulation, so 26 of his 53 came in the final 9:04. That’s nearly half of his points! In nine minutes!

It was insane, and it is the Marquette single game points record AND the Big East single game points record.

VERSUS

#9 Seed: 34 points vs Xavier on February 18, 2017

Result: Marquette won, 83-61

Full Markus Howard Statline: 29 minutes, 34 points on 11-for-18 shooting (2-for-6 on twos, 9-for-12 on threes), 3-for-3 on free throws, four rebounds, three assists, one turnover

This particular game is historic, specifically for the Markus Howard 30 Point Game Tournament. It is, in fact, Howard’s first ever 30 point game in a Marquette uniform. As we’ve clearly outlined in the course of this event, there’s been a lot of them since that day in February 2017, but this one was the first one.

It was also a pretty big win for the Golden Eagles and a mighty performance by Howard as well. Coming in, Marquette had lost four of their last five after beating #1 Villanova. While that win had given MU a signature win that they had otherwise lacked on the season in terms of a postseason profile, the subsequent skid had them gasping for life. They had dropped from 5-3 in Big East play to a now worrying 6-7 with just five regular season games left to go. It was put up or shut up time, and a crippled Xavier team just happened to be coming to town for National Marquette Day.

Howard torched the Musketeers for what was then a Marquette record tying nine three-pointers on the way to his first 30 point game and went off for a single-handed 11-4 run against the Musketeers in the second half to tile things over in MU’s favor for good.

What was particularly great about this performance was that Marquette desperately needed it. The margin of victory is going to make this look like a runaway Golden Eagles win forever, but if you look at the box score, it was anything else but that. Sam Hauser was scoreless. Duane Wilson was 1-for-7 and Katin Reinhardt was 1-for-6, both off the bench. Luke Fischer played 12 minutes off the bench before fouling out. Jajuan Johnson didn’t even play, even though he was healthy. Andrew Rowsey was 3-for-10 from long range, which isn’t the worst thing ever, but it’s also not great. Marquette needed a huge kick in the pants as a team and Howard delivered it and then some.

Time to vote! Which Markus Howard performance was better? The poll will stay open til Friday at midnight, so tell your friends to vote, too!