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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs St. John's

Let's examine how the Golden Eagles rallied from down eight at the half to beat the Red Storm by six.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you're not familiar with the Four Factors as featured on KenPom.com, the concept is very simple: There are four main parts of a basketball game that contribute to a team's success. They are:

  • effective field goal percentage, or FG% with a bonus for made three pointers
  • turnover rate, or the % of possessions that end in a turnover
  • offensive rebound rate, or the % of possible offensive rebounds that the team grabbed
  • and free throw rate, or the ratio of free throws attempted to field goals attempted expressed as a percentage

We'll look at the numbers for Marquette and their opponent in both categories for each game. The opponent number doubles as Marquette's defensive numbers, since it's what they're allowing. Along side each of the individual game numbers, you'll see two numbers after that. The first one is the season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they rank across the country on KenPom.com.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 52.5% (This Season: 52.6%, #94)
St. John's: 54.0% (This Season: 45.6%, #45)

This was a bad defensive outing for Marquette, no two ways about it.  In fact, Marquette's lucky to have their defensive eFG% to be as low as it is here is a bit of a miracle.  SJU posted a first half eFG% of over 57% against Marquette, largely powered by a 7-11 shooting job from long range.  Five different Johnnies knocked at least one three pointer in during the first 20 minutes.  Things only got mildly better in the second half, when the Red Storm's eFG% dropped to "only" 50%.  They "only" shot 4-13 behind the arc after the break, while SJU popped in eight of their 15 two-point attempts.

This is arguably actually worse than it appears at face value.  St. John's is actually one of the 40 worst eFG% teams in the country at this point of the season, and they're the worst shooting team in the Big East in conference action.  SJU's in-conference eFG% is just 44%, and that's AFTER this game.  It's almost inexplicable that St. John's actually shot this well, which makes you ask a lot of questions about Marquette's defense, especially of whomever was guarding Ron Mvouika (3-4 3PG) and Durand Johnson (4-7 3PG).

The offense was nice, although that requires a caveat.  The second half offense was amazing, with Marquette recording an eFG% of over 67%.  Duane Wilson was nothing but net on long range shots after intermission, while Henry Ellenson (5-9) and Luke Fischer (3-4) were both outstanding.  The first half, though, BLECH.  You're not going to look good against anyone shooting an eFG% of 41%, and when your opponent is trying to break 60%, it makes it look even worse.  Everyone who played in the first half shot at least one time, but only Fischer (4-6) and Haanif Cheatham (4-7) made more than one shot.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 25.3% (This Season: 20.2%, #275)
St. John's: 23.5% (This Season: 20.6%, #62)

GAAAAAAAAAH THE TURNOVERS PLEASE MAKE IT STOP WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESERVE THIS

Marquette committed 20 turnovers in this game, and 16 of them came from three players: Six by Henry Ellenson, and five each from Haanif Cheatham and Traci Carter.  Don't get this twisted: all three dudes played good games, posting relatively decent Offensive Ratings for the game, according to KenPom. I get that these dudes are freshmen, and they're going to be prone to a mistake or two.  The key word in that sentence, though, is "TWO," and it's not "SIX."  Two of Ellenson's six turnovers were of the offensive foul variety, bringing us back to something that he was prone to early in the season, but not so much as of late.  I will mention that Brian O'Connell was one of the three referees for this game and move on with my life.

If you skim over to the rankings for Marquette in the other seven categories, you'll notice that everything else is good, or at worst completely survivable.  MU's turnover rate on offense is openly destroying the quest to get into the KenPom top 100 and stay there.  Hell, I'll go so far as to say that the turnovers on offense are the sole reason why Marquette's KenPom ranking dropped from #96 before this game to its current position of #108.  It's gotta stop.

At least it was slightly balanced out by a better than usual performance on defense.  MU has been a high quality takeaway team under Steve Wojciechowski, and this was no different.  Federico Mussini had the most turnovers with four, but Marquette did an excellent job of spreading around the 18 miscues from the Red Storm.  Six SJU players had at least two turnovers in the game.  While the offense will get the big credit for the second half bounce back, part of the 14 point margin in that frame was due to St. John's coughing it up on nearly 30% of their possessions.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 33.3% (This Season: 29.6%, #186)
St. John's: 25.0% (This Season: 30.8%, #198)

Hey, look, kids!  A good rebounding day!  We haven't had a lot of these to be happy about this season, so we have to give a big thumbs up when it does roll around.

Henry Ellenson did the heavy lifting for Marquette on both ends, finishing with a team high 10 rebounds with four of them coming on the offensive end.  MU was much better on the offensive glass in the second half (39%) than in the first, but even the 30% OR% is just fine, at least relative to what Marquette's been doing all year.  Five different Golden Eagles wrapped up at least one offensive rebound, and MU got a bit of a break with St. John's knocking two of Marquette's shots out of bounds for a deadball OReb.

Even though Kassoum Yakwe grabbed four offensive rebounds on the day, it was still a very good defensive rebounding outing for Marquette.  The 25% OR% that St. John's posted is well below the season average, and lightyears better than the 36.4% Defensive OR% that Marquette had in 2014-15.  We have to talk about how bad MU was at defensive rebounding last year to understand how much better they are at it this year.  Just barely inside the top 200 is still not great, but it's not bottom 15 type stuff, either.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 35.0% (This Season: 39.8%, #109)
St. John's: 19.4% (This Season: 22.9%, #2)

I think it's safe to say that Marquette's FTR in this game was impacted at least a little bit by Luke Fischer fouling out after only playing 26 minutes.  The junior from Germantown is Marquette's leader in personal FTR, and he's tied with Henry Ellenson for fouls drawn per 40 minutes, too.  If his minutes are being limited by his fouls, then Marquette's ability to get to the line is going to be limited, too.

As usual, Marquette was great at limiting St. John's chances of getting to the free throw line.  Things got a little sideways in the second half, as the Red Storm had a FTR of nearly 40% there.  This was after a first half FTR of less than 3%, though, so I guess we can let it slide.