Wednesday night was a quiet one for college hoops until news broke of Marquette sophomore Markus Howard torching Providence.
After their 95-90 win over the Providence Friars, the Marquette Golden Eagles improved to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in conference play. That’s fine and dandy. But Markus Howard’s scintillating performance made it all possible. He went out and finished with 52 points, a number that tied Marshon Brooks for the most in Big East history.
At 5-11, Howard has to get creative with how he scores his points. It’s no coincidence that he’s one of the best shooters in college basketball. Against Providence, he was 11-of-19 from downtown, 17-of-29 overall and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. The Arizona native entered the contest with a scoring average of 20.5, which now sits at 22.6.
It was the second time this season where Howard connected on 11 threes. He’s now buried 60 of the 149 triples he’s attempted, and the outburst against Providence raises his clip from 37.7 percent to 40.2 percent. That’s piddling compared to his freshman season where he led the NCAA at 54.7 percent. Howard’s marksmanship is what he’s built his game on, and even the slightest sliver of daylight is enough for his light to turn green.
The shots against the Friars fell from all over. Howard unleashed a steady barrage of catch-and-shoot threes before forcing the defense to readjust after taking them off of the dribble. He had no regard for anything except buckets. By the beginning of the overtime, Howard tallied 45 points and scored 10 of them during the final 2:11 in regulation.
One of the more underrated parts of this performance was the aggressiveness of the undersized guard. He earned more than four free throws for the third time this season. Howard’s seven attempts are second to the nine he got against Northern Illinois on December 18. He’s now 45-of-45 from the charity stripe this season and is the lone player to have an unblemished mark from the free throw line with more than 40 attempts. Fletcher Magee (very underrated name) is next with 33 makes on 33 attempts.
Markus Howard captivated us for one night. Now, the microscope will zoom in just a bit to make sure we don’t miss another box score-breaking performance.