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StatWatch: Marquette at Wisconsin

Hey, let’s poke around at the numbers a bit.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Wisconsin Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

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 the Four Factors from the game against Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Four Factors

Marquette Category Wisconsin
Marquette Category Wisconsin
65.5% eFG% 46.3%
14.3% TO Rate 19.0%
26.9% Off. Reb. Rate 34.3%
18.2% FT Rate 37.0%
1.30 Points/possession 1.00

Wisconsin might be really awful.

I don’t mean because they’re now 5-7 after cheating to beat Western Kentucky on Wednesday. We can make all the jokes about Wisconsin’s record at this point of the season, but a combination of freak chance, inter-conference challenges, and the Big Ten screwing them over because they just HAD to play their conference tournament in Madison Square Garden this year, the Badgers got handed a schedule with eight KenPom top 60 opponents in their first 11 games. That sucks. Think about it this way: As long as no one goes above or below the cutoff point between now and then, Marquette won’t get to eight KenPom top 60 opponents until January 24th.

What I’m talking about is the fact that with Kobe King and D’Mitrik Trice out for the season and for the foreseeable future respectively, there is even less of note on this Badgers roster than there was to start the season.

Against Marquette, Brevin Pritzl, Brad Davison, and Ethan Happ combined to take 35 of Wisconsin’s 54 shots. Those guys shot just 46% (16-of-35) on those shots. That breaks down to 13-of-27 (48%) on two pointers and a completely fine 3-of-8 (38%) on threes.

The rest of the team shot 37% (7-of-19). The remaining six guys combined for a 1-for-4 mark from long range and 6-of-15 (40%) on twos. The made three was from T.J. “I’ve never played more than nine minutes in a game in two-plus seasons, what do you mean I have to play 13 minutes today” Schlundt, and it came on his only shot of the game. It is at this point that I have to remind you that Marquette over the course of 10 games this season has proven to be one of the 50 worst teams in the country at defending two-point shots. Even with that in mind AND with Ethan “No, seriously, I’m going to shoot three-pointers this season, no really, why are you laughing, hey, come on, I’ve attempted four of them already, no I haven’t made one yet” Happ going 8-of-15 on twos all by himself, Wisconsin still couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn against the Golden Eagles. The non-Happ players shot 11-for-27 (41%) on twos!

Maybe up through the Marquette game, Wisconsin was just a victim of circumstance and scheduling. Going forward, however, Greg Gard and his staff have to be hoping that there’s a “when” attached to Trice’s return from his foot injury, not an “if.”

Has the light gone on for Jamal Cain?

No one is going to look back at this game at the end of the season and say “hey, you know what, Marquette beat Wisconsin because of the quality of Jamal Cain’s minutes.” That’s fine. When Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey are throwing aspirins in the ocean like they were in the Kohl Center, the little things are going to fall by the wayside. It happens.

I want to point out what Cain did here, though. First road game, first trip to the Kohl Center, big moment for the freshman from Michigan. Came out with a tidy 3/2/1/1/1 line in 21 minutes. Took two shots, both three-pointers, knocked one of them down. It came at a big moment, too. Marquette had gone up by 17 in the first 10 minutes, but Wisconsin had trimmed the lead to just 10 points on a three by Brevin Pritzl with 2:30 to go in the first half. Cain had already subbed in earlier in the half, committed two fouls and a turnover and was sent back to the bench. He was sent back out to spell Greg Elliott, grabbed an offensive rebound, and the ball worked its way back to him, KA-SPLASH, Marquette back up 13 on Cain’s first shot of the game with 1:52 left in the period.

Marquette doesn’t need Jamal Cain to do a lot on the floor. Be reliable on defense, keep the ball moving, find the open teammate, hit open shots, hustle after rebounds and loose balls, put a fingertip or three on errant passes. That’s all. Between Howard, Rowsey, and Sam Hauser, MU can score it in bunches. They need guys to do everything else on the floor, and Cain had a nice little game here doing exactly that. Kind of did the same thing against Vermont, too, by the way. 5/4/2 and a block. That’ll go a long way towards earning him more playing time.