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Marquette at #8 Xavier: Three Things We Learned

Hopefully two of the things are not connected.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

1 - Something happened to Sam Hauser in the first half, and that’s probably not great for Marquette in the long term.

Some parts of Sam Hauser’s game in the first 20 minutes against Xavier were textbook Sam Hauser. He grabbed four rebounds (great), dished two assists (pretty strong), and didn’t commit a foul or a turnover (check and check). However, he also only attempted one field goal (he missed) and two free throws (kind of a lot for him, actually, made both of them), and finished the frame with just two points.

I’m not going to blame him for Marquette trailing by 18 at that point, but Xavier shutting him down had a lot to do with it.

That’s not even actually what I was talking about when I said “something happened.” This is:

While Ben Steele would note that Hauser seemed fine coming out of the locker room for the second half, the sophomore from Stevens Point played just three minutes after the break. He splashed a triple on MU’s first possession of the second half and cut the margin to just 15 points, then subbed out for Greg Elliott at the 16:46 mark after Xavier had pushed the lead back to 18 and did not return. After the game, Steele reported that it was a hip issue for Hauser, and the coaching staff elected to not push the issue given that the game got even further out of hand rapidly after Hauser’s departure.

Marquette Wire’s Andrew Goldstein spoke with head coach Steve Wojciechowski on Thursday, and officially, Hauser is day-to-day. You can see the effect on Marquette’s overall play when Hauser is being taken out of the game by the opponent. The upside there is that the opponent is expending resources eliminating Hauser. If Sammy is going to have to miss a game or two because of this hip issue, meaning that opponents aren’t going to have to work to eliminate his usefulness? That’s some Darkest Timeline stuff right there.

2 - The defense was not Marquette’s problem in this game.

I’m not trying to tell you that Marquette played an outstanding 40 minutes of defense in this contest. That would be a lie, and friends don’t lie.

However, it was not a poor enough showing on defense to cost them the game. According to KenPom, Marquette allowed 120.9 points per 100 possessions against Xavier. I know, it’s not good. And no, Marquette has never won a game this season allowing more than 115.8 per 100. However, Marquette has scored more than 120.9 per 100 possessions on seven occasions, and they also had a 120.2 in there for good measure. Eight times in 20 games this season, Marquette had an offensive performance that was good enough to go toe-to-toe with the Musketeers.

Unfortunately, they didn’t come anywhere near doing that. MU tallied an offensive efficiency of just 95.1 points per 100 possessions on Wednesday night, their worst single game performance of the season. If you would rather read it a different way, that’s 0.951 points per possession. The Golden Eagles shot just 26% on three-pointers in the game, with Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard combining to go 4-for-16 (25%). MU’s effective field goal percentage was a woeful 42.4%, and this is a team that ranks in the top 25 in the country in that category at 56.4% for the season. They were way way way waaaaaaaaaaay off from their usual performance. They were way off from an off-night.

Want to know the worst part about it?

It’s the second straight game with an efficiency under a point per possession. It was easy to overlook it because DePaul was even worse, but it’s been two straight games without a functional offense for the Golden Eagles.

3 - I think I broke a land speed record for “no longer caring about the outcome of a game.”

My mental states going from earlier in the day on Wednesday going forward:

  • “I dunno, man, maybe they catch a break or two, keep it close, and hit some shots late to win. We’ll see. The game in Milwaukee was pretty close.”
  • “Here we go!”
  • Quentin Goodin just hit his second three in five minutes. That’s, uh, not good.”
  • “8-0 run for Xavier already. Damn.”
  • “Hey, 6-0 run for Marquette, back in this!”
  • “Welp, there it goes, that 12-2 run just became 22-10, and that became 38-22 to close out the half.”

And that was pretty much it, other than a brief flicker of attention when MU cut the lead to 16 with four minutes left. That’s theoretically enough time for something crazy to happen, but Xavier slammed the door.

Would it have been fun and nice and whatever else you want to say about beating the #8 team in the country in their building? Absolutely. Marquette wasn’t favored to win, though, and so the loss just doesn’t bother me, no matter what kind of performance it was. They’re going to be favored to win a lot of the next 10 games, and it’s going to be very important to win all of those. I’ll reserve my energy for worrying about those games.