Marquette guard Markus Howard gifted college hoops fans the guttiest individual performance of the season to date on Wednesday night in willing the Golden Eagles, who trailed for almost the entire bout on the road against Creighton, to an unlikely 106-104 overtime victory.
Howard himself accounted for half of Marquette's points.
Did you do the math? That's (carry the one) 53 points!
Howard's outburst set a new Big East individual scoring record for the most points ever scored and he did so with impressive efficiency. He finished 15 of 26 from the floor, 13 of 15 from the free throw line, and 10 of 14 from beyond the arc -- including a streak in overtime in which he scored 11 consecutive points to give Marquette breathing room. If you look closely you can almost see Howard's hands smoking from his heat check.
Howard's night tilted from incredible to borderline unbelievable in overtime by adding 14 of his 53 points in the final five minutes of bonus time. But his heroics almost certainly would have been written off as a great performance in a loss if not for a wild sequence that ultimately sent it to OT.
Creighton appeared to be in the catbird seat to snag a nice home win after gaining possession armed with an 85-82 lead in the final second, but the Bluejays failed to successfully inbound the ball, setting up Marquette's Sam Hauser for a buzzer-beater that ultimately afforded Howard an opportunity to set a new scoring record in league play.
Howard's breakout is anything but surprising if you've watched Marquette this season. The junior guard is scoring 24 points per game and making 41.9 percent of his 3-pointers. And Wednesday was an extreme example, more or less, of what he's done all season. He scored 37 against Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 10; He scored 45 on 12th-ranked Kansas State on Dec. 1; He scored 45 on 14th-ranked Buffalo on Dec. 21; and Wednesday he set his own season-high with 53. Thrice this season he's gone for 45+ -- and twice he's made at least eight 3-pointers in a single game.
For Howard, it was a momentous night that will almost certainly vault him into Player of the Year discussion moving forward. And for Marquette, a quality all-around win on the road as it improves to 13-3 on the season and 2-1 in Big East play.