I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but Marquette senior guard Markus Howard is pretty good at this whole basketball thing.
Back on Saturday, Howard went for 42 points in Marquette’s 84-80 victory on the road against Georgetown. He went 14-for-31 from the field and racked up an effective field goal percentage in the game of 54.8%, just a tad over his season average of 53.3%. In short, the best and most electrifying scorer in the country had a better than average game to guide his team to a much needed road win, and yeah, by the way, his average is prrrrrreeeeeeeetty good in the first place.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that this was Howard’s third 40+ point game of the season. I thought that I would poke around for some context as to what Howard accomplished with this third outing like this during this season. After all, we’re watching Marquette’s all-time leading scorer wrap up his senior year here, and it seems important to try to appreciate what we’re watching while we’re watching it.
According to our wonderful friends over at Sports Reference and their Player Game Finder, we know that there have been 20 games this season where a player has scored at least 40 points. (Aside, I wanted to do this with 30 point games, but HOLY CRAP THERE’S BEEN SO MANY.) Markus Howard has three of these 20 games: vs Georgetown on Saturday, vs Davidson in the first round of the Orlando Invitational, and vs USC in the Orlando Invitational semifinals.
No one else has more than one.
Two of these games came against non-Division 1 opponents, so we have to say sorry to Wagner’s Curtis Cobb and Eastern Washington’s Mason Peatling, but we’re going to drop you from this discussion. What you did, while cool, was kind of not fair.
That leaves us with 18 games of 40 or more against a Division 1 opponent, and again, three were Howard’s. So that’s 15 other players with at least 40 points in a game this season.
Of those 15 players, only five are averaging more than 20 points per game this season like Howard is this season:
Iowa’s Luka Garza, Texas-San Antonio’s Jhivvan Jackson (who happens to be second in the country in scoring to Howard), UMass Lowell’s Christian Lutete, Northeastern’s Jordan Roland, and Hampton’s Ben Stanley. Only Roland and Jackson join Howard north of 23 points per game.
The point here is that for a wide majority of the “OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING” explosions this season, it’s coming from guys who aren’t really racking up the points on a regular basis.
And again, Howard’s done it three times.
Of those five guys with a 40 point game who are also amongst the 28 players in the country averaging 20 or more points per game this season, only two of them are shooting better from behind the arc than Howard’s 43.1%. Roland is connecting on 44% of his 141 long range attempts (Howard has 167), and Stanley is shooting 50% from long range this season.
Right now you’re saying “wait, there’s some dude with a 40 point game who is averaging 20+ per game this season and hitting 50% of his threes? How is this not national news??” Well, mostly because Ben Stanley is only shooting 8-for-16 from behind the arc. He scored 40 on the button against Howard by going 14-for-18 on twos, with just one attempt and make from behind the arc. I now have many questions about what Hampton head coach Edward Joyner, Jr., is doing for an offensive scheme this season, but that’s a different question for a different time, and perhaps a different blog.
Let’s dial back a second.
All three of Howard’s 40 point games have come against opponents from notable conferences: Davidson (Atlantic 10), USC (Pac-12), and Georgetown (Big East).
Only Garza (44 at Michigan) and Arkansas’s Mason Jones (41 vs Tulsa) can claim the same statement. Please feel free to insert your joke about Tulsa and the AAC here, but please remember that I had to edit out a Major Seven reference from a moment ago because the Atlantic 10 is not one of those seven.
Here’s another one.
Marquette is undefeated when Markus Howard goes for 40 points this season. We can not say the same for five of the other 40 point games this season:
- UNC-Asheville’s Lavar Batts (40 points in a 90-85 overtime loss on the road against South Carolina State)
- Eastern Kentucky’s Jomaru Brown (41 points in a home 79-71 loss to Western Kentucky)
- Arizona State’s Alonzo Verge Jr (43 points in a home 96-56 loss to Saint Mary’s)
- Iowa’s Luka Garza (44 points in a 103-91 road loss to Michigan)
- Hampton’s Ben Stanley (40 points in a 94-91 overtime home loss to Howard)
33% of the games with a 40 point scorer not named Markus Howard didn’t result in a win for their team.... but MU has three wins when Howard goes for at least that many. That’s going against the grain of what’s happening around the country, and we have to tip the cap to the Marquette star for it.
I could probably keep digging and finding other things to be impressed about Howard’s performances this season. But you get the idea here. We’re watching something special, both game in and game out, and when Howard goes above and beyond even his every day special, we’re seeing something very rarely even touched or glanced by any other group of fans in the country.
There’s 12 regular season games left to go. Six at home, counting tonight against St. John’s, and six on the road. Treasure them, Marquette fans. However many we have left, they’re all special.