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, the #2 seed coasted easily into the fourth and final spot in the semifinals. Let’s head back to the top of the bracket and see who our first entry into the championship round will be.
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 of the game. 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.
#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.
Which Markus Howard performance was better? Cast your vote! Polling will stay open until Friday at midnight CT, so tell your friends to vote, too!