Markus Howard's Clutch 53-Point Outburst for Marquette Leads Drama-Filled Hoops Night
The early window of college basketball action on Wednesday night provided plenty of drama, from Marquette's Markus Howard dropping a career-high (and Big East-record) 53 points in a wild 106–104 overtime win over Creighton to multiple unexpected top-25 upsets.
Howard's effort nearly went wasted in regulation, as the No. 21 Golden Eagles trailed the Bluejays by five with only three seconds remaining. After Joseph Chartouny put back his own miss, Creighton turned it over on the inbounds, giving Marquette the ball back with 0.8 seconds remaining. Enter Sam Hauser.
Hauser's heroics sent the game to an extra period, which is when Howard kicked his already-impressive night into another gear. He scored the first 11 Golden Eagles points of OT, notching his 50th of the night on a stepback three before helping seal the improbable win from the free-throw line.
Big scoring outbursts are nothing new for Howard, who scored 52 in a game last season and just had a 40-point half in December. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Howard is the only Division I player who's recorded multiple career 50-point games over the last 20 seasons. The 5'11" junior is now averaging 24 points on the season and shooting 41.9% from three as he continues to make his case in the National Player of the Year race.
While Marquette was able to steal a conference win in a tough road environment, elsewhere the night was a good reminder of just how hard it is to win on the road in college basketball, no matter who you're playing. Here's a rundown of the notable results:
Temple Ends Houston's Undefeated Run
After starting the year a surprising 15–0, the No. 17 Cougars fell for the first time on the road, 73–69, against an underrated Temple team. The pivotal moment came in the waning seconds as Corey Davis Jr. attempted to hit a game-tying layup just before the buzzer. The basket was good, but the referees called a charge on the play, sending things back the other way and securing an Owls win.
Temple junior Quinton Rose had a tough day from the field but led the Owls with 22 points and six rebounds, while Nate Pierre-Louis added 18. Temple became just the fourth team this season to score at least 1.0 points per possession on the stingy Houston defense, posting 1.04 in the win.
Rutgers (Yes, Rutgers) Knocks Off No. 16 Ohio State
Think the Big Ten is deep this year? Look no further than the fact that perennial basement-dweller Rutgers, which just got run off the court by Maryland for much of Saturday, took down a ranked Buckeyes team 64–61 at the RAC Wednesday. It was the best win of Steve Pikiell's three-year tenure in Piscataway and a sign that he's got the scrappy Scarlet Knights pointing in the right direction.
Rutgers isn't a team that's going to wow anyone on offense (it ranks 224th in kenpom.com's offensive efficiency), but it has a defense that's good enough to give teams real trouble, something it took advantage of against Ohio State. At 0.98, the Buckeyes scored their lowest points per possession of the season so far, and an 8-for-26 shooting night from the perimeter cost them on the road in the upset.
With the win, Big Ten teams were put on notice that a trip to New Jersey shouldn't be overlooked by anyone. That lines up with what an anonymous league assistant coach told SI.com before the season, when he said, "They’re getting more talent and [the RAC] is becoming a tougher place to play, because their talent level is going up and they’re packing that place. It’s not an easy place to play.” Indeed.
Ole Miss Continues Its Unlikely Emergence, Upsets Auburn
One of the most under-the-radar first-year coaching jobs in the country so far has been done in Oxford by Kermit Davis, and his Rebels put an exclamation point on it Wednesday night by knocking off No. 11 Auburn at home, 82–67. Ole Miss was picked to finish dead last in the SEC in preseason (including by SI.com) but is now 12–2 on the season and can start dreaming of a chance at its first NCAA tournament bid since 2015.
Senior Terence Davis, who tested the NBA draft waters before electing to return to school and play for Davis last spring, powered the Rebels with 27 points and 12 rebounds in the win, as they shook off an off night by leading scorer Breein Tyree. Auburn took its usual high number of threes, making 14 of 39, but turned it over 16 times and missed eight of 17 free throw attempts in the loss. The Tigers were stymied inside the arc, where they made just eight shots while shooting 28.6% against a Rebels defense that ranks 19th nationally in two-point D. Mississippi is now 2–0 in SEC play after beating Vanderbilt on the road over the weekend and faces a crucial road test at Mississippi State this Saturday.
West Virginia Blows a 21-Point Lead to Kansas State
While all of the above was going in, the Wildcats were pulling off the largest comeback in school history in Manhattan, rallying back from a 21-point second half deficit to beat West Virginia, 71–69. It was a sorely-needed win for Kansas State, a preseason top-15 team that had followed up a disappointing non-conference slate by stumbling to an 0–2 start in Big 12 play without the injured Dean Wade, including getting routed by Texas at home.
While boasting a top-10 defense, the Wildcats have seriously struggled on the offensive side this season, making the 50-point second half they had perhaps one of the most unlikely turn of events this season. But with WVU leading 42–21 in the early minutes after halftime, K-State reeled off a 17–0 run to get back in the game, then rallied again when the Mountaineers went up nine with just under nine minutes remaining. Barry Brown finally put the Wildcats in front for good with 29 seconds remaining, part of his 29-point, six-steal night.