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Howard’s performance for the ages

Markus Howard. 52. 

That’s a number that needs no context. It needs no explanation. It definitely doesn’t require a numbers guy to explain the significance. By itself, 52 conveys everything you would need to know about the crazy, stupid, wonderful performance Markus Howard put together. 

But what fun would that be. This is a numbers heavy site, and when you get one as historic as 52, we have to dig a bit deeper. 

For starters, it set the Marquette program record for points in a game. In the 101 years of existence, no player had ever poured in as many points as the 18-year-old sophomore from Arizona did on Wednesday night. Not Bo nor Butch, not Dream nor Doc, not Travis nor Tatum, not Steve nor Smith. Heck, not even Dwyane himself. This is a program that bathes itself in history and historic players. Howard not only set a new bar, he obliterated the last one of 44 points set by Tony Smith in 1990 and Mike Moran in 1958.

It also tied a Big East record. And no, not just the Big East of the past 5 seasons. We’re talking about Ewing and Iverson and Allen and Kemba. None of the legends that helped build the conference into basketball royalty ever reached 52. Poetically enough, only a former Friar himself, Marshon Brooks, ever reached those throes in a Big East game, dropping 52 in a loss to Notre Dame in 2011. 

Howard also joined an exclusive club, becoming one of only 5 players to hit at least 52 in a game since the start of the 2010 season. (The others were Nate Wolters, Jimmer Fridette, Mike James (against a DII school), and Brooks.) Of those, Howard had the second fewest FT attempts and 3rd fewest FG attempts.

Getting a bit into the wonky side, the thing that impressed me the most, more than the pure point total was the usage rate, or the percent of Marquette’s possessions that ended with a shot by Howard. A 35% usage rate is high, but not for a game in which you score 52 points. Heck, it wasn’t even Howard’s highest usage rate this week, and only the 6th highest this year. 

Capture.JPG

When you are on like Howard was on, I’m fine with just about any usage rate.  For comparison, here are the other 52 point scorers from the last 8 years and their respective usage rates.

  1. Jimmer Fridette 50.3%
  2. Nate Wolters 45.8%
  3. Marshon Brooks 41.0%
  4.  Markus Howard 35%
  5. Mike James N/A

The best explanation for this is probably what makes the whole night so remarkable. There was nothing about the first half that said Howard was about to go HAM. In fact, here’s the perfect Tweet to describe just how unlikely it was.

Idiot.

Good job, good effort indeed. 

In my defense, Howard was 2-6 from 3-point land at the half and only had 10 points on 2-8 shooting. In isolation that’s not a terrible line, but combined with his previous 3 games, where he had gone 5 of 23 from distance, it wasn’t really evident that we were about to witness history. (Wolters had 15 in the first half of his game, Brooks had 17, while Fridette had 33 at the intermission.) Going 7-10 from distance is a career best game for most, but was just another second half for Howard.

And that brings up one more point. We saw Howard set a Marquette record earlier this season when he dumped 11 3s on Chicago State, so seeing him do it once more is cool, but doesn’t feel Earth shattering. But it is still Earth shattering. It’s only been done 15 times in the past 8 years, and Howard has done twice. No other player in that time frame has even hit 10 twice. 

One last time, what we saw last night was historic on it’s own. When you add even a bit of context, it becomes that much more special. As Wojo said last season, Markus Howard is a Bad Boy.  

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