When Marquette jumped out to a 13-4 lead within the first five minutes of the game I got excited, not just to see a walloping of Northern Illinois but also to see SMU transfer Harry Froling get his first playing time in a Marquette uniform. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to see either thing, or even #TheThing. Froling played sparingly and only accumulated two rebounds, a turnover, and a foul in his very limited playing time as Northern Illinois managed to stay in the game far longer than expected before Marquette finally pulled away for the 79-70 victory. It was very apparent that head coach Steve Wojchiecowski did not feel comfortable with Froling playing meaningful minutes in his debut and because the game was so close, Froling didn't have a chance to show us what he could do.
With Marquette going up ten in the first five minutes, I thought (and everyone else did, too, probably) that we would coast to an easy victory, however, Northern Illinois managed to fight back and take a four point lead with 15 minutes left in the second half. From that point on Marquette woke up and dominated the game, taking a 14 point lead with 3:24 to play and eventually winning by 9. Unlike most games where Marquette pulls ahead in the second half, it was not the offense, but the defense, who brought them back. Marquette forced Northern Illinois into 18 turnovers, 10 of them after the break, and held them to 38.2% shooting (30% on 3’s).
Aside from Froling’s lack of playing time, the main story from the game tonight was Marquette’s inability to make open shots. Marquette got looks that I would normally classify as good throughout the game but struggled to knock them down, shooting 42.4% from the field overall and a mere 30% from three. Overall, this is not overly concerning. Both Markus Howard and Sam Hauser missed some shots they normally make (a combined 7-for-23 on triples), but with their stellar shooting histories between this year and last, I am not worried at all about them.
Someone I am worried about is Andrew Rowsey. Rowsey had his calf stepped on during the second half and went down for a few minutes. There have not been any updates on his condition, but the fact that he returned to the bench later in the game makes me think that he has avoided a serious injury. Wojo said in his post game press conference that tests need to be run, which now makes me nervous as hell. Even if it’s minor and doesn’t cost him more than Thursday’s game, this injury could bother him for a while. As we all know from watching Katin Reinhardt last year, shooters tend to be impacted heavily by leg injuries, so I would not be surprised if Wojo holds Rowsey out until he is 100% as an Andrew Rowsey who cannot shoot is not a very useful Andrew Rowsey.
Overall, today was by no means a disaster (pending on what comes out about Rowsey’s injury, I suppose) but Marquette could have played better. However, any time Marquette gives up under 80 points I will consider it a win for our defense. As we all know, as a jump shooting team, Marquette is susceptible to upset and susceptible to upsetting teams and the fact that we won without shooting the ball well is a step forward for this team, even against Northern Illinois.
Can I interest you in some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FS1?
Next Up: Marquette plays American (3-7) out of the Patriot League on Thursday at 6:00PM Central at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Eagles are coming off a three point loss to Mount St. Mary’s on Monday night, to give you an idea about how their season is going.