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StatWatch: Marquette vs Vermont

Let’s revisit something that we looked at last week, shall we?

Marquette men’s basketball
I like Theo John dunks.
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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 Vermont Catamounts.

Vermont Four Factors

Marquette Category Vermont
Marquette Category Vermont
65.0% eFG% 58.5%
14.1% TO Rate 18.3%
25.0% Off. Reb. Rate 28.1%
26.7% FT Rate 27.1%
1.28 Points/possession 1.14

Vermont’s offense is a little overrated in this game.

I do not expect you to get excited about Marquette allowing the Catamounts to post an effective field goal percentage of 58.5%. I also do not expect you to get excited about Marquette allowing the Catamounts to score 1.14 points per possession in this game.

I do, however, expect you to realize that Stef Smith had shot just 16 three-pointers this season coming into the game, made just five of them, and then went 6-for-6 from long range against the Golden Eagles.

That one just has to get charged to the game. Vermont has four guys averaging double digits in scoring. It was a 20 point game from a freshman averaging 12 minutes and 5.8 points AFTER his outing against Marquette. I can’t do anything but chalk that up as a freak occurrence that happens once in a while. There’s no way that Stef Smith rated a note on the scouting report and if you go listen to head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s postgame interview with Homer and Mac on the radio, he point blank admits that was the case.

With that in mind, I want to point the following things out.

  • Without Stef Smith’s six three-pointers, Vermont’s eFG% drops from 58.5% to 48.1%.
  • Without Stef Smith’s six three-pointers, Vermont’s points per possession drops from 1.14 to 0.97.
  • Four of Stef Smith’s three-pointers came in the first half, which Marquette ended with a two point lead. The other two came before the 13 minute mark of the second half, and Marquette led by two after the final one. He didn’t even shoot again until 2:06 remaining, and that was his lone two-point make of the game, and it pulled Vermont within nine.

Whatever you want to say about Smith getting off on his run, you have to admit that 1) Marquette defended the guys that they knew they needed to defend very well and 2) When Marquette realized that they needed to take Smith’s shooting out of the game, they did, and then outscored a good Catamounts team by eight over the final 13 minutes of the game.

The two-point defense is showing signs of life.

After the overtime win against Eastern Illinois, we took a look at how the Golden Eagles were defending two-point shots. It was bad, although, admittedly, there was a slight reason for optimism.

At the time, MU was the ninth worst two-point defense team in the country, ranking at #343 in the country. Well, over the last three games, the Golden Eagles have boosted their ranking allllll the way up to #321 in the country. The percentage has gone from 59.8% to 57.1%. It’s still not super great, obviously, but you have to like that things are at least trending in a positive direction.

For you visual learners out there, here’s a chart of MU’s two-point defense on a game-by-game basis.

2 point game by game defense

As was the case against Eastern Illinois, the blue line is the game by game shooting percentage, while the red line is Marquette’s two-point shooting percentage defense from the 2016-17 season. MU ranked #225 in the country with that number last season, and that 50.6% would rank in the top 200 right now. That’s not good, but it is better than what MU has done so far this season.

I suspect that with Marquette’s ability to shoot the ball from long range, as long as they can defend twos below that red line this season, they will win more games than they lose. To that end: Marquette is 3-0 this season when allowing a two-point defensive shooting percentage below 50.6%.