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 on a national level on KenPom.com.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Marquette: 62.2% (This Season: 58.1%, #10)
Fresno State: 61.6% (This Season: 49.0%, #139)
Well, the good news is that we can’t say that Marquette’s worst defensive eFG% outing of the season came in a loss any more. A major part of Fresno State’s second half comeback was a result of shifting their eFG% from 48% in the first half to 73% in the second half. I don’t know if you know this or not, but letting your opponent shoot 73% is really bad. The Bulldogs were 6-for-10 from long range after halftime, which wasn’t helpful to Marquette’s cause, but letting Terrell Carter going 7-for-9 was also not good. Then again, the FSU big man was 3-of-5 in the first half, so it’s not like he suddenly turned into a supernova.
Marquette’s shooting was outstanding, as usual. They went 9-of-21 on threes, largely because they were 6-of-11 in the first half, and MU went 17-of-28 (61%) on two pointers as well. Sam Hauser in particular was really great, shooting 5-of-7, with his only two misses coming as part of his six long range attempts. Markus Howard was a great 2-of-4 from distance, and Andrew Rowsey made both of his shots from behind the arc as well.
Given that Fresno State slid back into the game in the second half, you might think that Marquette’s shooting suffered after the break. You’d be wrong, actually, as the Golden Eagles posted a second half eFG% of 55%. Yes, they only shot 3-of-10 from distance, which isn’t great, but also isn’t ridiculously bad. MU went 7-of-11 from inside the arc, which definitely played a part in the effort to fend off the FSU rally.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 18.4% (This Season: 16.1%, #39)
Fresno State: 17.5% (This Season: 20.3%, #119)
While shooting didn’t really betray them in the second half, ball control did. Marquette has had just one game with a TO% over 20% (the loss to Michigan), and this game was just the second time where they went over 18%. In the second half, the turnover rate was 20%. Sadly, we can actually pin this problem almost entirely on one player: Jajuan Johnson. Marquette committed seven turnovers in the frame, with Johnson ending up as the only player to commit more than one...... and he had four. The good news (I guess?) is that those were the only four turnovers of the game for the senior from Memphis.
Defensive ball control failed Marquette in the second half, too. The Golden Eagles forced 10 turnovers in the first half to end up with a TO% of 26%. Three different Bulldogs committed more than one turnover, with Paul Watson leading the way with three. FSU’s TO% in the second half was just 8%, as MU forced just three turnovers in the final 20 minutes. The final one came with 6:02 left in the game with Marquette up nine. Just one more turnover wouldn’t have made much of an impact on the TO% number, but it might have made a big difference on the game getting so close in the final two minutes.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 17.9% (This Season: 27.0%, #250)
Fresno State: 11.5% (This Season: 24.8%, #38)
Clearly, this was a very good day for defensive rebounding for the Golden Eagles. However, it has to be met with a bit of a disclaimer. I noticed early on in the game that Fresno State was clearly abandoning the effort to grab offensive rebounds in what had to be an attempt to limit Marquette’s transition game. I don’t fault them for that, but when there was three white shirts standing around to grab a FSU miss and zero red shirts, it kind of made it easy for Marquette to do an excellent job on the defensive glass.
Marquette’s effort on their own misses was lacking as well, but considering how well they shot the ball, I don’t know if I can particularly blame them. Luke Fischer did come away with three offensive rebounds in the game, and all three of them immediately turned into tip-ins for the senior big man. I’d imagine it gets to be pretty easy to shoot 7-of-8 on the night when three of your shots are either dunks or from point blank range.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 59.2% (This Season: 30.7%, #260)
Fresno State: 30.4% (This Season: 36.1%, #195)
Marquette shot a lot of free throws in this game, and that was before they shot 10 in the final minute. Even without those, the FTR for the game still would have been north of 38%. With the Golden Eagles coming in with the 7th best free throw percentage (they make over 80%!), I’d love to see the FTR go even higher than the 30.7% they’ve been averaging. This is a jump shooting team, though, with the 100th highest percentage of shots coming from behind the three point line, so it’s going to be a rough go of it in that regard.
Then again, Sam Hauser led the team with eight free throw attempts to go along with his team lead in three point attempts, so what do I know?
A 30.4% defensive FTR isn’t the best mark of the season for Marquette, but it is just the second time this season that they’ve been below 31%. That’s a goal to strive for, as that would rank in the top 100 right now. MU is doing better at keeping their mitts to themselves after starting the season with five straight games over 36%, so hopefully this trend continues. A good defensive FTR has been one of the things we have been able to count on from Steve Wojciechowski’s teams during his still young tenure.