Marquette Golden Eagles (14-7, 5-4 Big East) at St. John’s Red Storm (10-13, 4-6 Big East)
Marquette Stat Leaders
Points: Jajuan Johnson, 12.6 ppg
Rebounds: Luke Fischer, 6.0 rpg
Assists: Haanif Cheatham, 3.0 apg
St. John’s Stat Leaders
Points: Shamorie Ponds, 17.2 ppg
Rebounds: Bashir Ahmed, 5.4 rpg
Assists: Marcus LoVett, 3.7 apg
Current KenPom Rankings
St. John’s: #104
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 67% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 88-83.
Tempo Free Fun: Marquette can not have a defensive failure in this game. Period. Full stop. Can’t do it.
KenPom marks the Johnnies as the #92 offense in the country. They don’t have a offensive Four Factors ranking better than #143, which is their effective field goal percentage. The only thing that they do well on offense is shoot three-pointers, where they rank #56 in the country in terms of percentage at 37.9%. Marquette has struggled again and again on defense, especially in league play, where they have the worst defensive efficiency in the Big East. As a whole, SJU does not have an offense that should provide that much of a threat, which is why MU should - key word: SHOULD - look perfectly acceptable against them tonight.
The problem then becomes the rate at which St. John’s hosts treys, right? Because the Red Storm offense hoists threes at essentially the same rate that Marquette’s offense does, and that is potentially a massive problem. Much like Marquette, St. John’s has a bunch of guys that can and will let fly. Marcus LoVett, Bashir Ahmed, and Federico Mussini are all shooting 38% or better from long range, and they’re all shooting more than four times per game. Shamorie Ponds is barely under 38%, and he shoots nearly seven times a game, while Malik Ellison is barely under 40%, but doesn’t average even two attempts per game.
While that’s all bad news, the good news is that Marquette’s offense, ranked #8 in efficiency by KenPom, should be able to smoke the Red Storm defense (#140) easily. Marquette is top 10 in effective field goal percentage and top 50 in avoiding turnovers. The only real thing that Marquette needs to be worried about is that St. John’s is one of the best shot blocking teams in the country. Tariq Owens is #7 in the country in block rate, while Kassoum Yakwe is #19. This may be enough of a problem to neutralize Luke Fischer’s offensive output in the game, so if he has a quiet game in terms of scoring or even shooting, then it may just be MU electing to avoid the SJU big men. The number one thing you can do to avoid shot blocking from two 6’11” dudes is, of course, raining three-pointers on their heads, and the Golden Eagles are the 4th best team behind the arc in the country.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 6-4, with a loss to Providence on Saturday snapping a two game winning streak.
St. John’s Last 10 Games: 4-6, alternating wins and losses in their last four games.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 18-10
Current Streak: Marquette has won three straight games against St. John’s.
Jajuan Johnson Watch: The senior from Memphis is one steal away from tying Kerry Trotter for the 10th most steals by a senior at 47.
Luke Fischer Watch: Fischer got two more blocks against Providence and currently ranks 5th on Marquette’s career blocks chart with 128. Chris Otule in 4th place is next up at 135. Fischer also needs three more blocks to tie Otule for the 10th most swats by a senior. Fischer’s climb to 1,000 points in his Marquette career continues as he’s currently sitting on 914.
Markus Howard Watch: With 44 made three pointers on the season, Howard has the seventh most made three-pointers by a freshman in Marquette history. He passed Mark Anglavar against Providence, and Brian Wardle at 46 is up next. He still needs another 6 attempts on top of his current total of 87 to crack the top 10 there.
Sam Hauser Watch: With 43 made threes, Hauser is now tied with Mark Anglavar for eighth on the most three-pointers by a freshman list. His six attempts against Providence pushed him into the top 10 in that department with 93, moving him into a tie with Anthony Pieper and Todd Mayo.
Follow Along On Twitter:
@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@StJohnsBBall - Official St. John's account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that's us!
@rumbleSBN - SB Nation's St. John's site
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat reporter