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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at Creighton

The Golden Eagles mined a victory out of the CenturyLink Center on Wednesday night. How'd they do it?

Steven Branscombe-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: 51.9% (This Season: 51.5%, #105)
Creighton: 46.6% (This Season: 46.4%, #42)

See, I kind of hate games like this.  Hooray, they did exactly what they usually do this season, and they're pretty good at both ends for the season.  Even on the offensive end, where there's obviously space for improvement, they were above the average for the day.  There's not a lot to really point at and talk about here.

I will say that Marquette only had an eFG% of 41% in the second half.  No one was particularly bad, with Henry Ellenson going 3-8 (whatever, he was 8-17 in the game, and he made a three after the half) and Haanif Cheatham going 1-4 (it happens, he was 2-4 in the first half)

The best thing that might have happened for Marquette's defense in the game was Cole Huff's first stint off the bench.  The junior transfer from Nevada entered the game just before the under 16 minute media timeout, made three of his first four shots, and then headed back to the bench with 8:40 left in the game.  Huff played 21 more minutes after that, and he went 2-13 which included missing all four three point attempts that he tried.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 19.5% (This Season: 20.6%, #312)
Creighton: 20.5% (This Season: 19.5%, #98)

A good defense slightly better than usual, and a bad offense slightly better than usual.  I'll take it!

What I would like to see is getting these things evened out on both ends of the court.  Marquette turned it over just 14% of the time in the first half, but that went up to 26% in the second half.  Meanwhile, Creighton ended 30% of their possessions in a turnover before halftime, but it was under 10% after the break.

Marquette did another outstanding job against their opponent's point guard, forcing Maurice Watson, Jr., into seven turnovers in the game.  He's committed 13 turnovers against Marquette this season, which does a nice job of balancing out the 15 assists that he's dished out.  Watson was really the only Bluejay that had problems with Marquette's defense, as no one else had more than two turnovers.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 20.7% (This Season: 29.1%, #195)
Creighton: 27.8% (This Season: 31.0%, #233)

Ok, before you panic about the offensive number there, let me point something out to you.  Marquette shot an eFG% of 59% in the first half and only had an OR% of 14%.  This may have been by design slightly: If most of your shots are going in, it stands to reason that you're going to try to rebound your misses a little less.  This is both because you're expecting shots to go in and 2) well, if your shots are going in, you're probably winning, so playing defense is now much more important.  In the second half, the shooting went WAY down (41%), and as you'd expect, rebounding went up: 29%.  Under 30% still isn't very good relative to the rest of the country, but it's nice to see things adjust back to the season average when the shots weren't going in.

Marquette's defense took advantage of Creighton being a crummy offensive rebounding team to be really great at defensive rebounding in this game.  Henry Ellenson was his usual great defensive rebounding self with nine of Creighton's misses, but the real star was Jajuan Johnson, who hauled in eight of the Jays' shots.  This, from a dude who's only averaging 3.3 rebounds per game, regardless of variety.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 22.2% (This Season: 38.5%, #126)
Creighton: 18.6% (This Season: 26.6%, #12)

No more Doug McDermott for the Bluejays, but they're still awfully jump shooty.  They rank #79 in the country in terms of how much three point attempts are the focus of their offense, so when you combine "lots of jump shots" with "Marquette doesn't foul," you get a very, very low defensive FTR.

The Jays aren't as good as Marquette is at keeping their opponents off the free throw line, but they are a top 70 team in that regard.  Marquette won, so I'm not going to really worry about this.