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: 49.1% (This Season: 51.2%, #113)
Creighton: 47.5% (This Season: 46.4%, #48)
When you look at the full game numbers, you see an offense that was a little bit down, but not a whole lot, and a defense that was just barely down. It's not like there's a lot to really talk about there. That's really exemplary of Marquette's season, to be honest.
It's stuff like this that explains why I do the Factors for each half to help put these posts together. Marquette and Creighton were craptacular at shooting the ball in the first half, but totally reeking of awesomeness in the second half. Do you have a better way to explain MU going form 42% to 55%? Or, even better, Creighton going from 34% to 66%??? Somehow things went from "crap offense but great defense" to "great offense, completely crap defense" just by taking a short break in the locker room.
Creighton's major switch is directly attributed to their three point shooting. In the first half, they went 2-16, and generally speaking, if you're going to force/allow a team to shoot 4-32, you're going to end up on the plus side of things. Creighton went 5-9 in the second half, though, so you get the double whammy of "not jacking it up like crazy any more" and "making more than half of them," which is a really a nasty combination. Toby Hegner was the Destroyer Of Worlds for the Jays, draining three of his five three point attempts in the second half after going 0-2 in the opening half.
Marquette went 4-10 on threes in the second half which definitely helped their case after a 1-8 opening stanza. MU shot about exactly the same on two point attempts in both halves, and no one really went crazy for Marquette. I know a lot of people are going to point to the Duane Wilson flubbed layup/dunk in the second half as a reason Marquette lost the game, but let's be honest: that was one of seven misses on ten attempts in the half for Wilson after he split his FG attempts before halftime. No one single play truly decides a basketball game, but seven of them certainly cause a shift in the flow of the river.
Turnover Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 18.8% (This Season: 20.6%, #305)
Creighton: 11.7% (This Season: 19.2%, #119)
Here's a rough way to go through life: improving on something you're bad at and being bad at something you're pretty decent at on a regular basis. On Saturday, Marquette posted just their 11th sub-20% turnover rate of the season, and only the fourth one in Big East play. Don't get me wrong: 18.8% is not a good season long number; it would only rank you right around #200 in the country. It's also WAY BETTER than what Marquette has been doing this season. Even more impressive about what they accomplished here: it's all because of the second half. MU turned the ball over on 30% of their possessions before the break, so in a way, it's kind of flipping amazing that they were tied with the Jays at 25. They turned it over just TWICE in the second half, both in the first 130 seconds. The rest of the way? Zippo. Given their proclivity towards throwing it away this year, I'd be surprised if there was another stretch of nearly 18 minutes where they didn't turn the ball over even once.
But all of that went to waste as they didn't force turnovers from Creighton. If you have a turnover problem, there are really two ways to solve it: stop turning it over or make your opponent turn it over just as much as you. This is the third time in five games where Marquette's otherwise good defensive TO% has been under 15% and the fourth time that's happened in Big East play. If it wasn't for the 11.5% posted against Wisconsin, this would be the lowest defensive TO% of the season.
WITH THAT SAID: Marquette EVISCERATED Maurice Watson, who committed six of Creighton's eight turnovers.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 15.2% (This Season: 29.3%, #197)
Creighton: 13.5% (This Season: 30.9%, #221)
This may have been the worst offensive rebounding game in history. It's definitely the worst OR% game of the year for Marquette, and it's also the lowest OR% that Marquette has allowed all season. Here's how lousy it was: Both teams were at 16.7% in the first half, which caused me to tweet the following:
#mubb is winning eFG%, 42% to 34%. They're playing "no, you take it" on OffRebs w/ both teams getting 17% of their misses.— Anonymous Eagle (@AnonymousEagle) February 14, 2016
It was so bad that I commented on it at halftime.... and then both teams got worse! Just 6% for the Golden Eagles and 12% for the Bluejays! Holy crap! Luke Fischer and Zach Hanson led the game with two offensive rebounds each. Only eight players grabbed even one offensive rebound.
If you can find a game - any game, anywhere - where both teams had an OR% below 16%, please let me know.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 27.8% (This Season: 39.0%, #121)
Creighton: 18.3% (This Season: 26.6%, #13)
I wonder if there's a correlation between teams not getting offensive rebounds (and therefore not getting into rebounding battles that can lead to fouls) and not getting to the free throw line very much.
There was a first half/second half split on this one, but it wasn't the same for both teams like it was for the shooting percentages. Marquette was decent (32%) in the first half, and kind of bad (24%) in the second, while Creighton was nonexistent (6%) in the first half and then pretty good (36%) after halftime.
To be honest, I can't get too fired up about MU being lousy at getting to the line in this game when they really clamped down on the Jays, even more so than their season long average.