Star sophomore point guard Ja Morant had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for the first triple-double in NCAA Tournament play since 2012 to help Murray State roll to a convincing 83-64 victory over Marquette on Thursday in West Regional play at Hartford, Conn.
Morant dominated the contest from the outset despite taking just nine shots. He recorded his fourth career triple-double as 12th-seeded Murray State (28-4) roughed up the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (24-10). The previous triple-double in NCAA play was achieved by Michigan State’s Draymond Green, who had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a victory over LIU-Brooklyn.
Freshman guard Tevin Brown made five 3-point baskets and scored a team-best 19 points as the Racers won their 12th straight game. Freshman forward KJ Williams had 16 points, and senior guard Shaq Buchanan added 14 for Murray State.
The Racers will face fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday in the second round.
Junior guard Markus Howard scored 26 points for Marquette, which lost for the sixth time in the past seven games. Junior forward Sam Hauser recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles shot just 32.4 percent from the field, including 8 of 31 from 3-point range. Howard was just 9 of 27 from the field and 4 of 14 from long range.
The Racers shot 53.6 percent from the field and were 9 of 18 from behind the arc.
Murray State led by seven at the break and came out strong with seven straight points at the outset of the second half. Morant’s three-point play increased the margin to 49-35 with 18:09 remaining.
After Howard made a 3-pointer, Morant delivered a thunderous dunk to ensure the Golden Eagles weren’t about to halt the Racers’ momentum.
The lead reached 20 after Brown made his fifth 3-pointer and Williams scored on a put-back to make it 62-42 with 11:23 remaining.
Buchanan’s layup gave Murray State a 68-46 lead with 8:07 left. Marquette never made a late-game charge.
Brown had 12 points on 4-of-4 3-point shooting, and Morant recorded 10 points and eight assists as Murray State built a 42-35 halftime lead. Howard scored 16 points for Marquette.
The Racers used an early 15-2 burst to open up a 20-10 advantage just more than seven minutes into the contest. The Golden Eagles answered a 14-3 run to take a 24-23 lead on a dunk by freshman forward Brendan Bailey.
—Field Level Media