Ja Morant
AP Photo

If you didn’t know about Ja Morant already, his dominant performance over Marquette will tell you all you need to know.

Danny Small

Fans in Hartford, Connecticut paid for the whole seat, but they only needed the edge. Despite the fact that Murray State coasted to an easy victory in the second half, Ja Morant kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Murray State’s dominance over Marquette was spurred on by an unbelievable performance from Morant. The point guard finished the night with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 16 assists on 5-for-9 from the floor.

It was the first triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game since Draymond Green achieved the feat back in 2012. Dating back even further, Morant joins an illustrious list of players to notch a triple-double in the Big Dance.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Morant’s triple-double is the fact that he only needed nine shots to control the game. His play is reminiscent of a Kevin McHale quote about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson from HBO’s documentary “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.”

“Larry and Magic could control the game with 12 shots,” McHale said. “It was amazing. They’d be 7-for-12. They’d have 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists. And you’d go, ‘Man the guy shot the ball 12 times and was the best player on the court, by far.'”

It’s almost unfair to put Morant’s name alongside all-time greats like Bird and Magic. But that’s the type of performance he put forth on Thursday. He sliced and diced the Marquette defense with bullet passes. The point guard didn’t even need to look for his shot to be the most dominant player on the court.


Morant was electric from start to finish and served as the catalyst for this all-too-familiar 12v5 tourney upset. The Murray State Racers play in the Ohio Valley Conference and naturally, some were skeptical about how they would do against the mighty Big East.

The notion that this mid-major wouldn’t hang looks laughable now. Morant and the Racers didn’t leave any doubt and they’ll face off with fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday.

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Moreover, Morant’s performance was the most compelling part of the first slate of the tourney. There haven’t been any real significant upsets otherwise.

Although there have been a bunch of sloppy finishes, no game-winning shots or epic comebacks. We still have a long way to go, but Morant is the story of the tourney thus far.


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