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 got our first upset of the first round last week, as the #9 seed beat out the #8 seed with relative ease. This week, we’ll wrap up the first round and give our top seed their first foray into the voting.
Ready? Let’s see the matchup!
#1 Seed: 53 points at Creighton on January 9, 2019
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.
#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.
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!