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The NCAA Tournament game Thursday between No. 5 seed Marquette of the Big East Conference and No. 12 Murray State, the Ohio Valley Conference champion, was billed as a showdown between All-American point guards Markus Howard and Ja Morant.Howard’s Marquette teammates seemed to take that label literally. They let Howard go it alone.The other Murray State players gave Morant a truckload of help. A player can do some of the work in a triple-double on his own, but one who scores 17 points has been the beneficiary of screens and scoring passes; one who grabs 11 rebounds needs teammates to force missed shots, and one who accumulates 16 assists — 16! — must have the other guys make baskets.SN’s MARCH MADNESS HQLive NCAA bracket | Live scoreboard | Full TV schedule”I knew some of the main focus was on me, so I knew it would have been a great opportunity for my teammates to score,” Morant told TBS. “I just tried to attack and just make the defense sink, and I had some kick-outs and my teammates delivered.”This was only the ninth triple-double in the history of the tournament. The others who achieved that distinction: Draymond Green, Michigan State (2012 and 2011); Cole Aldrich, Kansas (2009); Dwyane Wade, Marquette (2003); Andre Miller, Utah (1998); David Cain, St. John’s (1993); Shaquille O’Neal, LSU (1992) and Gary Grant, Michigan (1987).That’s some pretty stout company.This was a pretty stout performance.”Ja Morant is as good as any guard I’ve coached against or played against. You are talking about an elite, elite decision-maker. That kid is a big-time player. Triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game? That’s crazy,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said.Can we skip, please, the “how on Earth does a player like this slip through the cracks” nonsense? Does anyone have any idea how rare a Ja Morant is these days? In the past three seasons, 43 of the 45 players on the Sporting News All-America teams came from top-six conferences and Gonzaga. Only Morant and Saint Mary’s center Jock Landale (2018) played for non-power programs. Of last year’s first-round picks who competed in college, 89 percent competed in top-six conferences. The big-timers are having no trouble finding and signing the vast majority of the best players.WATCH: Morant dunks all over MarquetteThese criticisms also are an insult to the Murray State program, which has produced pro-level point guards twice before this decade: Isaiah Canaan (2012) and Cameron Payne (2015). There’s every reason to believe the experience of playing in this program rather than being unrecognized in a more prestigious setting helped Morant to become the player he is. If it were just about raw talent being overlooked, he’d have done more as a freshman than the fine season he produced: 12.7 points and 6.3 assists per game. He’d have torn apart college hoops then, too.As a sophomore, he has made the spectacular routine. Morant took only nine shots against Marquette, earning five points on perfect shooting from the foul line. He also hit twice from 3-point range.SN’s BRACKET GUIDES: SOUTH | EAST | WEST | MIDWESTAs great as he was, the difference in Murray State’s 83-64 victory in the South Region first round was the abundance of contributions from such players Tevin Brown, Shaq Buchanan, KJ Williams and Darnell Cowart.Buchanan: The Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year took on the defensive responsibility for Howard. It was unlikely Howard would be shut down, but he was forced to work for his 26 points. He shot only 9 of 27 from the field and was isolated from his teammates because Buchanan needed little help. Howard wound up with only two assists.Brown: A 6-5 freshman, Brown made 84 3-pointers on the season and hit 37 percent. He hit 5 of 9 from distance in this one and ranked among the team’s leading scorers with 19.Williams and Cowart: These two big bodies — a combined 535 pounds — owned the Golden Eagles along the baseline. They were credited with a combined 12 rebounds and two blocks, but ask Marquette if those numbers told the story. Golden Eagles big man Theo John went scoreless. So did 6-5 Sakar Anim.Marquette’s other players shot 15 of 46 from the field, a .326 percentage. At one point in the second half, as they plunged from a seven-point halftime deficit into a 20-point abyss, the Golden Eagles missed 11 of 12 shots and turned it over twice.MORE: Takeaways from Morant vs. Howard Morant will get the attention, and he earned all of that. This will be his final appearance in March Madness before he, no doubt, enters the NBA Draft and likely is selected within the first five picks .This became the third triple-double of Morant’s season and the 19th time he recorded a double-double in points and assists.A year ago, he was a freshman on a team that won the OVC title and earned a 12-seed. But those Racers lost by 17 to West Virginia, with Morant scoring 14 points in that game. These Racers (28-4) advance to play Florida State on Saturday in Hartford, Conn., where they figure to have plenty of newly initiated fans eager to watch another show like this.