On January 9, 1974, Al McGuire's second-ranked Marquette Warriors traveled to Columbia, S.C. to play the then fourth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. It was considered by many to be the most brutal game of Marquette's 101-year basketball history. Sports Illustrated's Curry Kirkpatrick called an early second-half brawl, " ... a good three minutes of heavy punching on both sides." Kirkpatrick's piece described a melee scene where a uniformed law enforcement officer charged after rhubarb instigator and Warrior guard Bob Lackey on the bench, only to be stopped when Lackey's teammate, Larry McNeill, came to his fellow Warrior's defense brandishing a chair. McGuire famously dismissed the incident, calling it a "waltz" and saying, "A bar-hall bouncer wouldn't take off his coat off for this one."
Forty-five years later, Markus Howard and No. 21 Marquette may have made the 72-71 win the Warriors got in South Carolina the second-most memorable one on this date in Marquette history.
Marquette needed five points in the final eight-tenths of a second of regulation against Creighton to get back to the tied score it hadn't seen since the game started and force overtime. It got them, though, before Howard proceeded to again prove why he is currently the best collegiate shot-maker in the country, taking and hitting Marquette's first four shots of OT. Howard finished with 14 points in the extra frame, along with a program and BIG EAST record 53 points for the contest, leading MU to a thrillingly improbable 106-104 win over the Bluejays in Omaha, Neb.
The game shared many parallels with Howard's previous career-high night, a Jan. 3, 2018, 95-90 Marquette overtime win at Providence last season. In that game, Howard set the university record and tied the previous conference mark for single-game points with 52, while in both contests, MU started slow before mounting a late charge to win with bonus basketball. Marquette (13-3, 2-1 BIG EAST) came to Omaha with only two road games under its belt, a pair of bad losses to Indiana and St. John's. The trend of poor play away from Fiserv Forum initially seemed to continue, as Marquette found itself down, 29-16, with eight and a half minutes left in the first half.
Creighton (10-6, 1-2 BIG EAST) led by six at halftime and as many as 10 in the second half. Up one, 81-80, Creighton's Ty-Shon Alexander sank a jumper with 17.7 seconds left, boosting the lead to three and seemingly forcing Marquette to take a shot from distance for the tie. Instead, Howard inexplicably drove the lane quickly and had the ball knocked out of his hands by the Bluejays' Martin Krampelj, who also got the ball and was immediately fouled by Theo John. Krampelj hit both ensuing free throws, setting the score at 85-80 and seemingly ending any Marquette hopes for victory.
Marquette quickly pushed the ball up the floor. After a Sam Hauser missed three, Joseph Chartouny recovered the rebound and got a putback to go on his second try, reducing Creighton's lead to 85-82. Marquette took its final timeout, leaving the fateful eight-tenths of a second for Creighton, theoretically, to simply run out the clock. However, the Bluejays opted for Connor Cashaw to heave the basketball across half-court to both Krampelj and Joey Hauser. In trying to keep Joey away from the ball, Krampelj himself missed it, allowing it to travel the length of the floor and out of bounds at the opposite end. By rule, possession returned to Marquette on its offensive baseline. Since no player touched the ball, the clock never started, leaving the full eight-tenths available for a prayer.
With newfound life, Howard sent a high, arcing inbound pass to Sam Hauser well beyond the three-point line. After he jumped for the ball, landed, and jumped again for his release, replays would show the shot left his hand almost simultaneously with the clock's expiration. It fell, the officials initially said it came in time, and the call stood after video review was inconclusive as to whether or not the ball left Sam's fingers before the clock expired.
After failing to lead at any point in regulation, Marquette wouldn't trail after Howard scored the first five points of overtime, though Creighton never lagged more than six. Alexander scored seven points in OT and led the Bluejays with 23 for the game. However, Creighton had no answer for Howard's scorching shooting in the added time. After a short bucket to start the overtime scoring, Howard would hit the next three shots he'd take, all threes, in each of Marquette's subsequent possessions, showcasing a nearly unstoppable step-back in the process.
Howard became the first player in over 20 years to have multiple 50-point games in his collegiate career, while also leading Marquette in assists with six. His 10 made three-pointers, on 14 attempts, put him one shy of equaling his own school record in that category. The clutch three by Sam Hauser came as part of a 13-point night in which he added 10 rebounds. Joey Hauser equaled his brother's 13 points and added five boards of his own.
Marquette won't have much time to dwell on its good fortune and heroics, as it must return to Fiserv Forum Saturday for a game against a Seton Hall team that has already won three of its first four BIG EAST games. Tip-off time is set for 1 p.m. CST.