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StatWatch: Marquette vs #19 Purdue

Hey, you know what? There’s some nice things to talk about from this loss.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to StatWatch, the best ongoing feature in the country that talks about whatever random Marquette stats that we want to talk about.

Here’s your Four Factors for the Purdue game.

Purdue Four Factors

Marquette Category Purdue
Marquette Category Purdue
50.0% eFG% 60.7%
15.8% Turnover % 15.5%
18.2% Off. Reb. % 29.2%
28.1% FT Rate 41.1%
1.02 Points/Poss 1.21

We’re going to apply The Thumper Rule here: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Lucky for us, there’s actually a lot to like about how this game went.

GOOD THINGS

#1 - Marquette shot the ball really well in the second half.

After an opening 20 minutes where the Golden Eagles connected on just 31% of their overall shots as well as 31% of their three-pointers, Marquette turned on the heat after halftime. Andrew Rowsey (3-5) and Markus Howard (3-4) led MU to a 7-for-14 (50%) final 20 minutes from behind the arc, while the team as a whole connected on 52% of their total shots. It turned into a 66% effective field goal percentage and pushed MU to that 50% game long eFG%.

The argument can be made that MU was propelled to a great second half by how they closed out the first half. Over the final 2:41 of the opening 20 minutes, the Golden Eagles turned a 30-19 Boilermakers advantage to just a 32-30 Purdue lead.

#2 - The Golden Eagles got another absurd outing from Andrew Rowsey.

The Lexington, Virginia native went for 25 points, three rebounds, six assists, a block, and a steal in 37 minutes against Purdue. His 8-of-17 shooting may sound a little off, but he went 4-of-9 from distance for a personal eFG% of 59%. That’ll do just fine. Even now, with Thursday night’s games wrapped up, Rowsey is now KenPom’s #3 ranked player in their Player of the Year rankings. There’s a lot of small sample size noise in that ranking right now, but for a guy who doesn’t rebound all that much to be up that high is hella impressive.

#3 - Markus Howard shot eight three-pointers.

We talked about it back in April: If Markus Howard is going to be an elite level shooter, then he needs to let it rip from long range more often. The 18 year old sophomore connected on four of his eight long range attempts in this game, bringing his attempts average up to 6.5 and his shooting percentage on three-pointers up to 46%. We know that if Howard fires away for eight a game every time out, he’s going to have some 3-for-8 nights, and that — 38% — is absolutely fine. He’s also going to have some 4-for-8’s and some 5-for-8s mixed in there as well. All that matters is weaponizing the Arizona native’s natural gift from splashing J’s from long distance. Just over eight shots per game will put him on track for Steve Novak’s program record for three-point attempts, and on Tuesday, Howard inched closer to that record.

BAD THINGS

#1 - Marquette couldn’t stop literally anything Purdue did on offense in the second half.

While the MU offense was cooking in high gear after halftime, the defense was allowing Purdue’s offense to do their best Johnny Storm impression. The Boilermakers scored at least one point on their first five possessions coming out of the break, turning a two point game into a 10 point game in less than two and a half minutes. They came up empty on their next two, allowing MU’s wrecking ball of an offense to slash the lead back to four.

That brought along a streak of six straight possessions where Purdue scored at least one point, and Marquette was lucky to be only down nine when the streak broke. A Grady Eifert three-point play got a new streak started, and this time it went for another TWELVE possessions. All of a sudden, Marquette was down 13 with five minutes remaining. Markus Howard had just fouled out to give Eifert two free throws to cash in on the 12th possession, after Matt Heldt had fouled out on the previous Purdue possession. That’s MU giving up at least one point on 23 of 25 possessions to open the second half, across a span of less than 15 minutes.

The truly bad part about it is that Marquette had their chances to end Purdue possessions pretty regularly. The Boilermakers had 10 missed shots in the second half, but grabbed up four offensive rebounds to extend those possessions. That turned into a 44% offensive rebounding rate for the visiting squad, and while the game long OR% number is right in line with MU’s mediocre rate from last season, with the game on the line, Marquette couldn’t close out possessions. They also went ahead and shot themselves in the foot repeatedly, committing 14 second half fouls to send Purdue to the line 22 times. That’s a particularly big swing from their first half total of one free throw attempt, and while Free Throw Rate doesn’t really impact a game all that much, it sure would have been nice to get stops on a lot of those 23 possessions instead of watching Purdue casually flip the ball through the net over and over.

#2 - The Not-Quite-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players

10 minutes from Theo John, 12 minutes from Greg Elliott, zero minutes from Jamal Cain.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and to be fair, I’m kind of thinking it, too. “Hey, Andy, how many minutes are you really expecting the freshmen to play, anyway? 10 and 12 seems pretty good, especially against a ranked team!”

Well, you’re probably right, generally speaking. There’s only 200 minutes to go around, and you’d expect the five starters to knock down somewhere between 125 to 150 of those.

Here’s the thing, though. In the second half, where the wheels were coming off at a precipitous rate, those numbers were 5, 5, and (of course) 0. The Golden Eagles needed to find literally any kind of a spark to get a stop somewhere against the Boilermakers, and the freshmen, at least in the eyes of head coach Steve Wojciechowski and his staff, were not the place to turn.

Some of this wasn’t a coaching choice, per se. Would John have played more minutes if he didn’t pick up three fouls in five minutes of action in the first half? Probably! With Purdue rolling two seven-footers out there for a combined 39 minutes, MU needed as much action as they could get from their top two big men in John and Matt Heldt. Instead, both guys fouled out after a combined 26 minutes. Not great! Nothing against Sam Hauser, but his 6’8” frame is going to lose a lot of times against the 7’2” Isaac Haas.

I’m not declaring any of these guys to be busts or anything like that. Far from it. This is game #2 of their (presumably) very long collegiate careers. They’re freshmen. They’re not 100% excellent at basketball at this level yet. That’s fine.

It’s just that Marquette could be playing #6 Wichita State next week Tuesday, and depending on how that goes, it could lead to a meeting with #13 Notre Dame on Wednesday. 10 days after that, Yante Maten and Georgia come to Milwaukee. Marquette’s new guys need to contribute for this team to be successful. That’s just a fact. They also need to start contributing soon, and the easiest way to contribute is on the defensive end.