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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs St. John’s Red Storm

It’s fun when your team shoots well and the other team shoots poorly.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you're not familiar with the Four Factors as featured on KenPom.com, the concept is very simple: There are four main parts of a basketball game that contribute to a team's success. They are:

  • effective field goal percentage, or FG% with a bonus for made three pointers
  • turnover rate, or the % of possessions that end in a turnover
  • offensive rebound rate, or the % of possible offensive rebounds that the team grabbed
  • and free throw rate, or the ratio of free throws attempted to field goals attempted expressed as a percentage

We'll look at the numbers for Marquette and their opponent in both categories for each game. The opponent number doubles as Marquette's defensive numbers, since it's what they're allowing. Along side each of the individual game numbers, you'll see two numbers after that. The first one is the season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they rank on a national level on KenPom.com.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 66.7% (This Season: 57.0%, #7)
St. John’s: 45.0% (This Season: 51.7%, #223)

Sinking 12 of your 24 three-point attempts is generally speaking a good way to win a basketball game. That’s what Marquette did here, heavily because of Sam Hauser’s 5-of-8 night as well as Andrew Rowsey going 3-of-8 and Katin Reinhard going 2-of-4 didn’t hurt either.

Obviously, given the bonus points for three-pointers in eFG%, when you assemble an eFG% of 75% just on threes, you’re doing pretty good. We can’t ignore what happened inside the arc, though. Matt Heldt and Luke Fischer drained all nine of their combined shots to help power Marquette to a 22-of-36 (61%) mark on two point buckets. It’s nice to see Marquette assemble two straight quality shooting nights. With the exception of the road trip against DePaul, MU’s eFG% had been on a slide downwards ever since the game at Creighton. The last two games have turned that slide around, and while it would have been nice to avoid the slide altogether (not to mention that losing slide that went along with it), I’ll settle for getting hot late in the season.

Marquette’s defensive eFG% was kind of trending in the wrong direction during that offensive slide as well, but MU has backed up the offensive firepower by locking down on defense in the last two games. Two very important wins, two defensive eFG% marks below 46%. Forget about how well MU can shoot the ball, if you hold teams under 46% on a regular basis, you’re going to win more than a few basketball games. The defense did a great job frustrating Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, St. John’s top two scorers, as the pair combined to shoot just 9-of-24 on the night, including both guys going just 1-of-4 on threes. Bashir Ahmed did have a good night (7-of-14, 3-of-7 on threes), but at some point, you can only shut down so many guys.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 20.4% (This Season: 17.1%, #73)
St. John’s: 14.6% (This Season: 18.5%, #187)

Ok, look. You can afford to be a little shaky with your ballhandling when you’re pouring shots through the net like Marquette was in this game. WITH THAT SAID, this is just the second time this season where MU posted a TO% over 20% and won.... and the other one was against St. Francis. At Seton Hall, at St. John’s, and home against Butler? All losses. If the shots aren’t falling (like they weren’t in those three losses), then kicking the ball all over the building isn’t going to go very well. Three different guys - Sam Hauser, Markus Howard, and Andrew Rowsey - all turned it over three times each. Given the fact that Howard turned in a charity performance in the first game against St. John’s (six turnovers), it’s probably not surprising that head coach Steve Wojciechowski limited him to just 16 minutes here.

I should probably apologize to Haanif Cheatham for this tweet, but in my defense, 1) he turned it over twice in a minute late in the first half and 2) he turned the ball over five times in MSG earlier this year and those two giveaways just brought back some nasty flashbacks.

While the shooting defense was great, the turnover defense was not. If I have to pick between one, then I’ll take the shooting defense. The Golden Eagles did poke three turnovers out of Malik Ellison, which is nice, but other than that, there’s not much to talk about here.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 22.2% (This Season: 28.3%, #206)
St. John’s: 20.0% (This Season: 28.6%, #145)

Ah, an old fashioned lack of a battle on the glass. Marquette was burying a metric ton of shots and led by double digits for the entire second half, so if Wojo was (as seemingly usual) focusing on getting back on defense instead of crashing the glass, I can’t fault that as a strategy, especially with MU’s usual defensive issues.

The Golden Eagles allowed three offensive rebounds to Bashir Ahmed, but that was about it. Sam Hauser (seven) and Matt Heldt (eight) were outstanding on the defensive glass, and Luke Fischer grabbed up almost one defensive rebound (five) for every two minutes he was on the floor (11). Andrew Rowsey had a quietly amazing defensive rebounding night with four rebounds. He’s listed at merely 5’10”, which might be code for “dude, no one is believing that you’re even 5’11,” but he managed to weave amongst the trees to snap up four of St. John’s misses. Nice.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 30.0% (This Season: 31.5%, #279)
St. John’s: 43.3% (This Season: 35.6%, #179)

If you want to be worried about how many free throws the Red Storm shot in this game, feel free. A heavy majority of the shots (18 of 26) came in the second half while Marquette was busy holding SJU to an eFG% of 40%, so it’s a big bag of whatever. You might not even realize that St. John’s was shooting so many free throws because they only made nine of their 18 attempts.

I do want to give credit to Jajuan Johnson for getting to the line eight times, all in the second half. Marquette only shot 18 free throws in the game, so tip of the cap to the Memphis native for his massive contribution.