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The Quick & The Dirty: #5 Villanova 85, Marquette 68

Turns out that top five teams look really good when you turn the ball over a lot

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Collin Gillespie’s shooting carved the Golden Eagles up on Wednesday night.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The lead was six at halftime.

It was 17 at the end.

It’s not what you want.

Marquette falls to 5-5 on the season and 1-3 in Big East play following their 85-68 loss to #5 ranked Villanova on Wednesday night.

The first half was kind of fun. It was a pretty good game for most of 20 minutes, but a 6-0 run by the Wildcats in the middle and 8-0 again by the visitors late in the frame boded poorly for the Golden Eagles once things got going after intermission. While Marquette didn’t have a problem hitting shots at all for forty minutes, they did have a problem keeping track of the ball. Nine first half turnovers meant that the Golden Eagles coughed it up on 28% of possessions, and so that six point lead had a certain amount of “y’know, if they had just gotten a couple more shots off....” to it.

And then Villanova ripped off a 10-1 in the early part of the second half after Jamal Cain started the scoring with a three-pointer. That made it 46-34, and Marquette was officially in trouble with 16:46 to go. The lead hit 15 with 14:15 to go, and 20 with 10:07 left. The Wildcats just kept hitting shot after shot after shot in the second half, much like we saw from Xavier on Sunday afternoon. Villanova would finish the final 20 minutes of the game shooting 16-for-31 from the field and 6-for-15 from long range, but that’s after they cooled way way off as they started coasting in for the win after going up 23 with four minutes left for their biggest lead of the game.

The turnover problem didn’t go away in the second half for Marquette, as they gave it away another eight times after the break. You could even argue that MU outshot the Wildcats in the second half, as the Golden Eagles cashed in five of their eight long range attempts while shooting 50% from the field. It didn’t matter, though, as some of that came late as MU closed the game on a 16-10 burst.

There’s not a lot to say here, other than Marquette’s defense was completely absent for the third straight game. Six straight defensive effective field goal percentage performances under 47% to start the season..... and now each of the last four games have seen Marquette’s opponent crack past 51%. The Wildcats finished at 59.2%, making it two straight games giving up an eFG% north of 59%.

For a team that was happy to invite The Athletic’s Brian Hamilton to talk to the team and the coaches about their defensive identity this season, they certainly don’t seem to have any interest in getting stops any more.

Villanova was led by 22 points from senior guard Collin Gillespie, who went 6-for-11 from long range in this game after coming in shooting 42% from out there. Five different Wildcats got into double digits, following up on their general model of making sure they share the ball.

Jamal Cain had 15 points to lead Marquette’s offensive attack in this game, eight of which came in the first 12 minutes of the game. D.J. Carton and Theo John each added 10. Dawson Garcia had nine points and eight rebounds, but he had five of Marquette’s 17 turnovers, too.

Up Next: In theory, Marquette’s easiest road game of the season. MU won’t play again til January 2nd, when they’ll be in Washington, D.C. to face Georgetown. The Hoyas are 3-5 on the season and 1-3 in Big East play after losing 78-67 to Seton Hall on Wednesday evening. Georgetown is the only Big East team outside the top 100 in KenPom’s rankings, sitting at #109 shortly after MU’s game ended.