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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at St. John’s

This game was stupid and bad.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at St. John’s Anthony Gruppuso-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: 47.6% (This Season: 57.7%, #6)
St. John’s: 56.1% (This Season: 51.8%, #235)

The double whammy of death: Bad shooting and even worse than usual defense.

Jajuan Johnson: 1-of-6. Katin Reinhardt: 1-of-7. Markus Howard with a 3-of-10 that gets ever so slightly better because all three of his makes were behind the arc. Duane Wilson didn’t help anyone with an 0-of-3. Bleh. Marquette was better in the second half (52%) than they were in the first half (44%), but it was kind of beyond help at that point, especially with what MU’s defense was doing to the Red Storm... or really, to be honest, not doing.

Bashir Ahmed, Kassoum Yakwe, Shamorie Ponds, and Marcus LoVett were a combined 28-of-54 straight up that converts to a 55.6% eFG%. Those guys straight up murdered Marquette in this game. As a team, the Red Storm shredded the MU defense in the first half with an eFG% of 65%. They did it largely by scoring inside, but don’t get me wrong: hitting four of their eight three-pointers definitely played a part. The shooting dropped way back for SJU in the second half, as could be expected to a certain degree. They ended up with an eFG% of 49% after halftime, which is a much better defensive job by Marquette, but not that far off their season average, nor that far off from St. John’s average either.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 23.4% (This Season: 16.9%, #59)
St. John’s: 17.7% (This Season: 18.8%, #165)

As if the craptangular shooting wasn’t bad enough, Marquette spent nearly 25% of the game kicking the ball all over the gym. Neat.

Hey, I can make this worse. Ready? This was MU’s single worst offensive TO% performance of the entire season.

Offensive TO% game-by-game through St. John’s on 2/1/17

As you can see, generally speaking, Marquette has avoided the 20% mark this season after finishing last season at exactly 20%. The times when MU has turned it over on 20% of possessions or more this season: loss to Michigan, a closer than it should have been win over St. Francis, loss at Seton Hall, and now this one.

Your main offenders in this particular game at the Garden were Markus Howard (six turnovers) and Haanif Cheatham (five turnovers). Those two accounted for 11 of the 17 turnovers in the game. That is unforgivable. Even Jajuan Johnson, who has been unexpectedly awful this season at keeping track of the ball and even worse in league play, managed to not commit a single turnover in this game. That’s how well everyone outside of Howard and Cheatham played.

I can’t necessarily criticize Marquette’s defense in the second half when they massively corrected their shooting defense. However, it would have been nice to see them pair that improvement with continuing to force as many turnovers as they did before halftime. The Johnnies coughed it up on 23% of their first half possessions, including all four of Marcus LoVett’s turnovers in the game, but only 12% of the time in the second half. I don’t know if MU could have swung the victory with a few more take aways, but it would have been interesting to see if nothing else.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 36.4% (This Season: 28.5%, #208)
St. John’s: 34.3% (This Season: 29.3%, #167)

This is like the inverse of the trip to Creighton a few games back, where no one wanted to grab any offensive rebounds. Both teams had their way on the offensive glass in this game, which is good news and bad news, obviously. Marquette’s two big men, Luke Fischer and Matt Heldt, both did damage on the glass, grabbing three of MU’s misses each. The Golden Eagles did catch a bit of a break with St. John’s knocking four of MU’s shots out of bounds in order to register “Team” offensive boards.

On the other side, Tariq Owens and Bashir Ahmed matched Fischer and Heldt with three offensive rebounds of their own. That was pretty much all the Red Storm needed to post such a great OR% because they missed so many fewer shots than the Golden Eagles. The two teams ended up tied in second chance points at 14 each, so you’re left to wonder how much different this could have gone if Marquette hadn’t allowed St. John’s to get 38% of their misses in the second half.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 32.3% (This Season: 32.2%, #263)
St. John’s: 21.2% (This Season: 35.2%, #167)

Hey, look! Legitimately good news. Unfortunately, it’s in FTR, which barely has an impact on the outcome of a game. It’s also not that good of news, considering the fact that MU barely outperformed their season average on offense, and that average is bad.