For most, a mid-major team winning in the first round of the NCAA tournament isn’t news. However, when it’s Ja Morant and Murray State it is. With a dominant 83-64 win over Marquette, Morant and his squad advance onto the next round. And more importantly, the electric guard proved that he can compete against top-level talent. For most of the prospects in the 2019 NBA draft, their level of competition has been no cause for concern. The prospects were either on Duke or they played Duke. Murray State hadn’t. They remained in their own mid-major world, where Murray soared through the air and cut around screens with ease. Some wondered if this newly found talent was a product of the environment or if he could continue to be the second coming of Russell Westbrook outside of his conference.

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The ninth triple-double in March Madness history confirmed the latter view. Morant contributed 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds on Thursday night. He started the game off with something to prove, drawing a double team and lobbing the ball to teammate KJ Williams for a dunk. Later, a step-back three from the Sophomore to end the first half pushed the Racers to a 42-35 lead. The showing continued in the second half when he dunked over Marquette’s 6’9″, 290-pound wing Joey Hauser. “That’s just everyday Ja,” said forward Devin Gilmore. “For real.”

The guard has electrified his team throughout the season night in and night out. When asked what he hoped scouts saw in the performance, Morant said, “Honestly, if they don’t know me by now, I don’t know what to say.” He added, “But I hope they see not just me, but that Murray State is a great team and we can run with the big dogs.”

Morant, who found his way to Murray State from rural South Carolina by an odd coincidence, is currently projected to be the no. 2 overall pick in this years NBA draft. Murray State will play no. 4 Florida State on Saturday, March 23.

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