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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at #7 Creighton

A great performance, of course, but not without its flaws and weaknesses.

Marquette v Creighton Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

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: 70.0% (This Season: 57.9%, #5)
Creighton: 56.6% (This Season: 51.5%, #229)

Here’s the good news: It’s the second time in three games where Marquette hit 70% in eFG% and the fifth straight game with a number over 52%. MU’s already potent offense is getting into a rhythm, which is fantastic news for the postseason future.

Here’s the bad news: Marquette’s defense was awful in the second half of this game. 40% eFG% in the first half, 73.5% in the second. MU had no answer in the second half for Justin Patton (4-of-6), Isaiah Zierden (2-of-2 on threes), and Davion Mintz (4-of-4 with two threes), and that’s how a 19 point lead turns into a single digit lead with under a minute to play. At least Marquette shot essentially the same number in both halves and they had a 19 point lead to shuck away over the final seven minutes and change.

Here’s a question: Where is Marquette’s offense in this game without Katin Reinhardt? The USC transfer was 8-for-13 and 4-of-9 on threes for an individual eFG% of 77%. Andrew Rowsey’s perfect outing was great, and it was nice to see Sam Hauser knock down two of his three long range attempts to get back into a solid rhythm.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 17.6% (This Season: 16.8%, #50)
Creighton: 13.8% (This Season: 19.8%, #116)

It’s probably not a good sign that Creighton’s mediocre defensive pressure was able to force Marquette into a worse than average TO% on offense. It’s also not a good sign that two players - Jajuan Johnson and Haanif Cheatham - got rung up for eight of MU’s 14 turnovers in the game. Johnson has been kind of turnover prone this season, as this is the first time in his career that his individual TO% has been over 20%, but Cheatham’s struggle against the Bluejays was atypical for him this year. Cheatham has been one of the more reliable ball handlers in the country this season (#404 in TO% even after this game) and he’s much improved over last season. This was just the seventh time this season he’s had more than one turnover in a game and only the fourth time he went over two. The other three? Loss at Villanova, loss to Michigan, win over SIUE. That.... is something of an annoying trend.

Marquette’s defense also wasn’t able to take advantage of Maurice Watson’s absence in this game. Creighton has been an elite ball handling team this season and they were able to mitigate MU’s pretty solid ability to turn teams over without Watson. Had Marquette managed two or three more turnovers, this game wouldn’t have even been as close as it was at the end. If MU is going to keep allowing teams to go wild in the second half, they really need to level that out with forcing turnovers.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 21.4% (This Season: 28.1%, #218)
Creighton: 23.7% (This Season: 29.0%, #150)

Anyone want to grab an offense rebound? Anyone? Hello? Is this thing on?

In defense of both teams, when you’re shooting the ball as well as both teams were for three-quarters of the game (everything except for Creighton’s first half), you’re not really going to be that invested in trying to get those very rare misses. Also: if you’re playing defense against teams shooting the ball that well, you are going to fight like hell to make sure that those guys don’t get a second chance to fire it up. Thus: lousy offensive rebounding numbers all over the place.

While it was not a good OR% day from a team perspective for either side, two players had nice days individually. Luke Fischer accounted for half of Marquette’s six offensive rebounds, while Ronnie Harrell had three of Creighton’s nine grabs.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 40.0% (This Season: 30.9%, #278)
Creighton: 30.9% (This Season: 36.5%, #194)

This was a surprisingly wonderful effort from Marquette. They’ve been kind of bad on both sides of FTR all season, and that got turned around here. In particular, MU got a lot of free throws in the second half (70.4% FTR) and kept the Jays off the line (17.6%) as the Golden Eagles attempted to protect the lead.

While we were justifiably critical of Jajuan Johnson and Haanif Cheatham in terms of turnovers, we have to give credit for their efforts at getting to the line. Both guys got five attempts at the charity stripe in the second half, which just happens to account for all of their attempts in the game.