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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs St. John’s Red Storm

Once more into the pit of games that the Golden Eagles can not afford to lose.....

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles (16-10, 7-7 Big East) vs St. John’s Red Storm (12-15, 6-8 Big East)

When: Tuesday, February 21, 2017, at 7pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI
Television: FS1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 540 ESPN Milwaukee
Live Stats: GameTracker

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 12.8 ppg
Rebounds: Luke Fischer, 6.2 rpg
Assists: Jajuan Johnson, 2.64 apg

St. John’s Stat Leaders

Points: Shamorie Ponds & Marcus LoVett, 17.2 ppg
Rebounds: Bashir Ahmed & Tariq Owens, 5.5 rpg
Assists: Marcus LoVett, 3.8 apg

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #35
St. John’s: #90
KenPom Projection: Marquette has an 82% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 90-80.

Since Last We Met: The Red Storm have continued their trend of being slightly surprisingly effective. The win over Marquette was the sixth straight game for SJU where they alternated between a win and a loss, and they’ve kept doing that for the three games since then. The losses aren’t even questionable, as they came on the road against Villanova and Butler. The scores of the losses, though, are quite surprising: They lost 92-79 to Villanova and 110-86 to Butler, but sometimes that’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re playing with the fastest tempo of any team in the Big East.

Tempo Free Fun: Marquette lost to St. John’s in New York earlier this season for three reasons: They shot the ball badly, they allowed St. John’s to shoot the ball very well, and they turned the ball over way, way, way, waaaaaay too much.

The 23.4% offensive turnover rate in that game was Marquette’s worst performance of the season at the time, and that holds up as a fact still today after another four games. Since then, sure, Marquette has only gone 2-2, but in three of the games, their turnover rate was under 17%, which is their season long average. The inability to maintain control of the ball in the Garden was (mostly) an aberration on the season and played a major role in the loss. I point this out again because if we count ranking in the top 100 in one of the Four Factors on KenPom as “playing well,” then St. John’s only does one thing well: force turnovers. The Johnnies rank #57 in the country at defensive turnover rate, causing their opponents to cough it up on nearly 21% of possessions. 11 of Marquette’s 17 turnovers in the first meeting came from either Haanif Cheatham or Markus Howard. That performance can not happen again.

Saying MU shot the ball poorly against St. John’s the first time is slightly misleading. The Golden Eagles cashed in 41% of their three-point attempts, which is good! They only shot 33% from inside the arc, which is bad. Sam Hauser, Markus Howard, Katin Reinhardt, and Duane Wilson were a combined 0-for-10, and Jajuan Johnson’s 1-for-5 didn’t help. While that was going on, the Red Storm wrecked shop both inside the arc (Shamorie Ponds, Bashir Ahmed, and Kassoum Yakwe all made at least six two-point baskets) and outside the arc, where the Johnnies connected on 42% of their threes. The long ball shooting isn’t unexpected, as SJU is a top 70 team in that department. They’re usually hot garbage inside the arc, though, connecting on just 48% of their two-point shots. That ranks them #245 in the country, and that is flirting with bottom 100 territory there.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, splitting their last four games evenly between wins and losses.

St. John’s Last 10 Games: 4-6 with the Red Storm alternating wins and losses in the last eight games.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 18-11.

Current Streak: The St. John’s victory earlier this season snapped a three game Marquette winning streak against the Red Storm.

Jajuan Johnson Watch: The senior from Memphis has passed Kerry Trotter for the 10th most steals by a senior with 48. Tony Miller is ninth with 52 swipes. Johnson’s 294 points this season have him sitting on 936 career points, so you’d like to think he’ll become Marquette’s 47th 1,000 point scorer before the end of the season. Of course, he has to get out onto the floor again first.....

Luke Fischer Watch: Fischer got two more blocks against Xavier and currently ranks 5th on Marquette’s career blocks chart with 144. Chris Otule in 4th place is next up at 145. I don’t think he’ll catch Faisal Abraham in third place with 172. Fischer’s 44 swats on the season has him ranked #4 all time in blocks for seniors. However, there’s a big gap until third place and Amal McCaskill with 55. Fischer’s climb to 1,000 points in his Marquette career continues as his 304 points this season have gotten him up to 968. At this pace, he should get to 1,000 before Jajuan Johnson gets there and become Marquette’s 46th 1,000 point scorer.

Markus Howard Watch: The freshman from Arizona detonated Travis Diener’s freshman record for made three-pointers with his nine buckets against Xavier. The record was 57, it’s now 65 and climbing. Anthony Pieper and Darius Johnson-Odom are tied for the 9th most treys in a season by any player with 73, and that’s clearly in sight now. Howard now has 121 three-point attempts on the season, which is the sixth most by a freshman, and Travis Diener’s 129 tries is up next. After his 34 point outburst, Howard has 321 points on the season, moving him into the top 10 for scoring by a Marquette freshman. He’s passed Brian Wardle and his 319 points to take over 10th place and Howard will pass Trevor Powell in ninth place (322) with his first basket against St. John’s.

Sam Hauser Watch: Hey, remember when Hauser was neck and neck with Howard on the freshman three-pointer chart? Good times. With 48 made threes, Hauser is tied for the sixth most made threes by a freshman with David Cubillan, with Duane Wilson (49) right in front of them. Hauser has the eighth most long range attempts by a freshman with 112, just one behind Cubillan in seventh place. The Stevens Point native has 15 blocks on the season, which has him tied with Oluoma Nnamaka and Tony Reeder for the 7th most by a MU freshman. Hauser is quietly sneaking up the freshman rebounding chart with 130 on the season. Jim McIlvaine is 10th all time for freshmen with 132.

Andrew Rowsey Watch: The transfer from UNC Asheville now has 55 made threes on the season, which is tied with John Cliff for the 7th most by a Marquette junior. Next up is Anthony Pieper in sixth place with 62. He’s on pace to be the 2nd most accurate junior three-point shooter in program history, so he’s going to need 10 more tries before he gets into the top 10 for three-point attempts.

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