The Ja Morant hype was more than justified, it turns out.
As he is wont to do, Morant took over against Marquette, making the the first day of the NCAA Tournament all about him and his Racers. In a matchup where Murray State was able to control every aspect of the game, Marquette bowed out of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 83-64.
Coming into the game, I told the folks over at Big East Coast Bias that the key to today’s game would be making sure that Tevin Brown doesn’t get hot from the perimeter. He’s Murray State’s best three-point shooter, and his 5-9 mark from behind the arc gave the Racers plenty of the boost they needed to take a 42-35 lead into the break.
However, the most surprising aspect of today’s game was how easily Marquette’s post play was controlled. Poor post play is a commonality between all four of Murray State’s losses this season, and one would not have been blamed for thinking that Marquette’s inside game could potentially given the Racers trouble.
Nevertheless, Murray State was able to limit the Golden Eagles’ paint scoring despite giving up 19 offensive rebounds. All of this was done while the Racers were able to use their quick pace to get out in transition and make Marquette pay for their inability to keep up.
Of course, the story in today’s game must be Ja Morant, who managed to post the first NCAA Tournament triple-double since Michigan State’s Draymond Green did so in 2012. He finished with an absurd stat line of 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds, all while enabling his teammates to score in droves via his expert ball movement.
One more stat from the Ja Morant Show: He scored or assisted on 55 points, the most points created by a player in a game in the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. (via @ESPNStatsInfo)— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 21, 2019
Now, the Racers will march into a matchup with a very big Florida State team that looked exceptionally shaky against Vermont earlier today. They’ve got the tools to beat Murray State, but one would have to be foolish to not be all in on the Racers right now.
Buckle up, and enjoy every single second of watching postseason Ja Morant. He’s something special, and my guess is that he’s a guy who will be talked about for years to come.