Ja Morant drops 36 points against Belmont as Murray State punches ticket to March Madness

Eric HeYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaab/players/141675/" data-ylk="slk:Ja Morant">Ja Morant</a> and the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/teams/murray-st/" data-ylk="slk:Murray State Racers">Murray State Racers</a> became the first team to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament on Saturday (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Ja Morant and the Murray State Racers became the first team to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament on Saturday (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Ja Morant might be the best college basketball player not in a Duke uniform, and we’ll get to see him work his magic during March Madness.

With a 77-65 win over top-seeded Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game on Saturday, Murray State became the first team to punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament.

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Which means more highlight-reel plays like this one will be coming:

Morant had 36 points, seven rebounds and three assists — including eight points in the last six minutes of regulation — willing his team into the bracket of 64. He made a game-winning turnaround shot in the semifinals to beat Jacksonville State that set social media ablaze on Friday night:

The sophomore made a sensational leap from his freshman season to become one of the most highly coveted prospects in this year’s NBA draft. Morant received just one offer from a Power Five school, and it’s safe to say he has proven the college basketball world wrong.

His average of 24.2 points per game ranks eighth in the country and he has broken the 30-point plateau in five games this season. He also dishes out 10.3 assists a game, easily best in the nation.

Bottom line: Morant is an offensive machine, and that is not good for any team that happens to draw Murray State in the tournament. We’ve seen in the past how dynamic scorers can will their team to March Madness upsets, and most of America will be rooting for Morant and the Racers come tournament time.

“I feel like we can get one,” Morant said in a postgame interview on ESPN, when asked about the tournament.

If he keeps scoring like he did to get Murray State to this point, it’s hard to argue against him.

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