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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs #22 Butler Bulldogs

If you’ve got a good feeling about this one, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Butler Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles (15-8, 6-5 Big East) vs #22 Butler Bulldogs (18-5, 7-4 Big East)

When: Tuesday, February 7, 2017, at 8pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI
Television: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: Only if you have cable through Frontier, Cox, Optimum, or WOW!, whatever that is.
Radio: 540 ESPN Milwaukee
Live Stats: GameTracker

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Markus Howard & Jajuan Johnson, 12.0 ppg
Rebounds: Luke Fischer, 6.1 rpg
Assists: Haanif Cheatham, 2.9 apg

Butler Stat Leaders

Points: Kelan Martin, 16.3 ppg
Rebounds: Kelan Martin, 5.7 rpg
Assists: Tyler Lewis, 3.8 apg

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #34
Butler: #23
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 53% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 80-79.

Since Last We Met: Butler has kind of been on the struggle bus. Straight after mounting an absurd second half rally to beat Marquette, they had to go to rally from down six with five minutes left to win in overtime in a road game against DePaul. That was followed up with a trip to Seton Hall where the Pirates took a 45-44 lead with less than seven minutes left. The Bulldogs returned home for their next two contests, and somehow, things got worse: a loss to a Georgetown team that was 11-10 overall and 2-6 in Big East play coming in and a loss to a Creighton team that had (and now has) only beaten DePaul since losing Maurice Watson to a season ending ACL tear. That game was last week Tuesday, and they’ve had a full week to stew over it.

Tempo Free Fun: Let’s be clear about something. Marquette’s offense against Butler in the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse was good enough to win.

They had an eFG% of over 56%, they only turned the ball over on 11% of possessions for what is still their best Turnover Rate of the season, they did about what you could expect from them on a regular basis on the offensive glass which doesn’t really matter at the rate they were making shots, and they got to the free throw line more than they usually do.

The defense also went belly up for the first nine minutes of the second half while the Bulldogs took just one attempt from behind the three-point line. Butler committed ZERO second half turnovers. None. Marquette couldn’t force so much as a bad dish under the hoop that went off Tyler Wideman’s hands and out of bounds. Zippo.

The first meeting of the season between Butler and Marquette put a simple truth of MU’s season into harsh relief: If Marquette outshoots their opponent, they win. It was true three weeks ago, it’s still true today. If the Golden Eagles finish a game with a higher effective field goal percentage than their opponent, they win. If they finish with a lower eFG%, they lose. Butler/Marquette I was the perfect example of that. Marquette finished the game with an eFG% of 56.9% when rounding to the nearest tenth. Butler? 57.0%. Marquette had the lower eFG%, Marquette lost.

I’d love to say “This kind of defensive performance can not happen again in Tuesday night’s game.” I mean, I could say it. But we all know that Marquette is absolutely capable of having a terrible defensive performance yet again. They are ranked #182 in the country in defensive efficiency on KenPom. MU has the best offense in the Big East according to KenPom.... and the worst defense. They couldn’t even get anything resembling stops on a truly regular basis against DePaul on Saturday. There’s not some kind of magical key or trick that’s going to fix this. There’s probably nothing that will at this point of the season. Fingers crossed that Marquette lives up to their rep as the #1 three-point shooting team in the country, I guess.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, with the win over DePaul snapping a two game skid.

Butler Last 10 Games: 7-3, but they’re on a two game losing streak.

All Time Series: Butler has a 19-17 edge.

Current Streak: Butler has won four of the last five, including each of the last two games.

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 seven (!) blocks against DePaul and currently ranks 5th on Marquette’s career blocks chart with 136. Chris Otule in 4th place is next up at 145. The seven swats on Saturday sent him soaring up the senior season chart to #8 all time with 36, and his next one will tie him with Mike Bargen for the seventh most by a senior. Fischer’s climb to 1,000 points in his Marquette career continues as he’s currently sitting on 935.

Markus Howard Watch: With 50 made three pointers on the season, Howard has the fourth most by a freshman for Marquette. Up next is Robb Logterman in third place with 54. Howard now has 98 attempts on the season, leaving him alone in 11th place for freshmen, but Mark Anglavar in 10th place with 101 isn’t that far away.

Sam Hauser Watch: With 47 made threes, Hauser has the seventh most made threes by a freshman, with David Cubillan (48), Duane Wilson (49), and yes, Markus Howard (50) right in front of him. Hauser’s also tied with Henry Ellenson for the eighth most long range attempts by a freshman with 104, and Steve Novak is right ahead of them at 109. The Stevens Point native has 12 blocks on the season, and believe it or not, that has him two away from the 10th most by a MU freshman. Three different players recorded 14 swats as a freshman, but Deonte Burton did it most recently.

Andrew Rowsey Watch: Thanks to his shooting explosion over the last seven games, the transfer from UNC Asheville now has 51 made threes on the season, which is the 10th most by a Marquette junior. The previous 10th best total was 50 triples by Brian Wardle, and Dan Fitzgerald is in 9th place with 52. In fact, if Rowsey goes haywire against Butler, he could pass a bunch of guys. Lazar Hayward (53) and John Cliff (55) are easily within range for Rowsey, who already has four games this season with at least four made three pointers. He’s on pace to be the most accurate junior three-point shooter in program history, so it’s going to be a while before he gets into the top 10 for three-point attempts.

Follow Along On Twitter

@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@ButlerMBB - Official Butler account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that's us!
@ButlerWay - Our favorite Butler site's account
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat reporter