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#15 Marquette vs Providence: Three Things We Learned

Look, they were #15 when the game was played, they’re #12 as you’re reading this. It’s confusing. There’s nothing we can do about it.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

#1 - Marquette won a game by offensively overpowering a team.

I know, it’s weird! We’ve been able, over and over this season, to praise the Golden Eagles for locking teams up on defense and prevailing at the final horn as a result. We have not been able to do anything resembling that for a couple of years, so it’s been a fun treat.

However, on Sunday, Marquette obliterated Providence through the mighty power of their offense. Specifically, the obliteration happened in the second half.

As noted by the officially unofficial Twitter account for this here sports blog, Marquette was.... welll..... bad on offense in the first half of the game. You’re not going to win a lot of basketball games scoring 0.76 points per possession. It’s flat out hard to play enough defense to be able to turn that kind of an offensive performance in your favor. Thankfully, MU had played enough defense to trail only by eight points at the break.

Before we continue, I want to discuss what is and is not a good offense. According to KenPom.com, the most efficient offense in the country is Gonzaga. The Zags have an adjusted offensive efficiency mark of 125.2 points per 100 possessions, or 1.252 points per possession. That is, of course, a number that is adjusted for opponent strength and location of the game. Quite obviously, it’s hard to be very good on offense while on the road against a good defensive team, so if you manage that, you deserve extra credit for that. KenPom keeps track of the raw efficiency numbers as well, but those only pop up when you look at teams within the league they play in and the conference games that they’ve played. In this case, Villanova has the most efficient offense at this point in the Big East at 116.8 points per 100 possessions, or if you prefer, 1.168 points per possession.

Everything make sense there?

Okay.

Marquette scored 1.50 points per possession in the second half against Providence.

YEAH. THAT’S A THING THAT HAPPENED.

We can distill that performance down to a few key things. Sam Hauser was 6-for-7, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc, Joey Hauser was 3-for-4, including making his only triple, and Sacar Anim was 2-for-4, including making his only triple. Marquette had a team effective field goal percentage of 63.8% in the second half, and those three dudes by themselves put together an eFG% mark of 90%. NINETY PERCENT. It also didn’t hurt that Marquette went 17-for-19 from the free throw line, and when your two misses are what amounts to Markus Howard’s 11th and 12th attempts of the half, you’ll find a way to rest peacefully at night.

Marquette’s defense was a titch better after halftime, allowing Providence to score 0.97 points per possession. That was essentially not important here, as the Golden Eagles unleashed hellfire on offense in order to end up (relatively speaking) coasting to the 11 point win.

#2 - I would like to think that Marquette has solved their turnover problem.

Not the defensive turnover problem, as in “they don’t create turnovers.” That’s still a thing and it’s still not great. When we woke up on the morning of December 19th, Marquette had just finished playing their third game of the month where they had recorded an offensive turnover rate higher than 26%. This gave them four games on the season with a turnover rate that high and their fifth turnover rate north of 22%. That’s five in just 11 games.

That’s bad.

Since that point, Marquette has gone over 22% once. Heck, Marquette has only had a turnover rate over 20% once: the 70-66 home win over Seton Hall, where the rate was 27.1%. In Big East play, their turnover rate through six games has been 17.4%. Against Providence? A practically non-existent 8.7%. In the second half, when the offense went full fireball, the rate was [drumroll] 5.6%.

Look, they’re absolutely not going to be able to do that night in and night out. That is bananas. But as long as the rate is under 20%, that’s going to be good enough to propel the offense to score more than enough to (and boy is this a weird thing to be typing after the past two seasons) let the defense do what it does and give MU a chance to win the game.

#3 - Someone stuck a dime in Joseph Chartouny.

Last time out, following the Georgetown game, I pointed out the struggles that Marquette’s graduate transfer has been experiencing this season. The fact that he wasn’t called on to be helpful with Markus Howard sitting out against the Hoyas was a very real problem in the immediate afterglow of that win, as we didn’t know how long Howard would need to sit.

Two good things happened against Providence relative to our worry at the time. First: Markus Howard was cleared to play on Sunday morning and ran around the Fiserv Forum court for 37 minutes. The junior phenom occupying all of those minutes was a major lift for the Golden Eagles. Second: Joseph Chartouny...... was fine. He played 10 minutes, grabbed a rebound, dished three assists, and had a steal. He missed both shots that he took, both three-pointers, one in each half, but that was essentially not important to the proceedings, so I don’t want to bang on him too hard for that. This was not a fully powered performance from Chartouny, one that we would have gotten if someone had stuck a quarter in him as requested last week. However, it was exactly the kind of performance that MU needed from their back-up point guard, so I’m giving it and whoever stuck a dime in him a thumbs up here.