All eyes were on Murray State superstar point guard Ja Morant as he took the NCAA Tournament stage. Everyone in America was looking for him to put on a show and, needless to say, he absolutely did that on Thursday against the Marquette Golden Eagles.
With a matchup against fellow scoring machine Markus Howard, it was kind of crazy this was a first-round game in this year’s Big Dance. Yet, it was simply perfect at the same time.
Although Howard finished with 26 points, it was Morant and the Murray State Racers who advanced to the second round to face the big and athletic Florida State Seminoles in the Round of 32 on Saturday.
Morant finished with an amazing triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 16 assists, and these 10 moments are a perfect example as to why he is such a highly-regarded prospect in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft.
Let’s just go in order here…
The Opening Bomb
Early in the game, Markus Howard buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to start his scoring onslaught on the way to 16 first-half points. However, on the very next possession, the 6-foot-3 point guard showed off his NBA range with a DEEP three to show the world he was not playing in March Madness for the press clippings.
The Secret Sauce
Oh, you want to throw a lot of bodies on Morant to blanket him and make sure he doesn’t get off a jumper? That’s quite alright, he will just hit you with a saucy right-to-left crossover and find the open man for a wide open 3-pointer. Back to the drawing board.
Morant Against The World
After recording five assists in the opening eight minutes of the game, it was clear Marquette was simply looking to make Morant a distributor more than a scorer. He was more than effective, though, and in this play Morant drew ALL FIVE Golden Eagles defenders. Pure insanity.
Lob City Racers
One of the biggest attractions to Morant, in addition to his athleticism, is his vision. This lob play was ran to perfection. Good heavens.
The Step-Back Goodness
Morant only went 2-for-4 in the first half, and both makes were from 3-point range. The final one, to close the half, was a step-back that’s as filthy as it gets.
Ja Shake and Bake
Look, by this point, and well before it, everyone knew the ball was going to be in Morant’s hands a lot. Here, he just decided to shake Sacar Amin and finish in traffic for the and-one.
Does this really need an explanation? Just put this thing on repeat and watch Ja Morant throw down the HAMMER over and over again. It will never get old.
The One-Handed Dime
If there was a point where this game was no longer fair, this was it. Look how much fun Ja Morant was having. It’s what the NCAA Tournament is all about.
Yeah, this got ugly in a hurry.
A dominant performance deserves an exclamation point. Ja Morant provided his with 4:38 left with a rebound to give him his triple-double. What an epic game for one of college basketball’s best players.