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#10 Marquette Men’s Basketball Big East Preview Primer: at Georgetown

The Golden Eagles head out to the nation’s capital with an eye on rebounding from their loss to Connecticut earlier in the week

DePaul v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

#10 Marquette Golden Eagles (19-6, 11-3 Big East) at Georgetown Hoyas (6-19, 1-13 Big East)

Date: Saturday, February 11, 2023
Time: 11am Central
Location: A definitely not sold out Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Kam Jones, 15.3 ppg
Rebounds: Oso Ighodaro, 5.8 rpg
Assists: Tyler Kolek, 7.7 apg

Georgetown Stats Leaders

Points: Primo Spears, 16.1 ppg
Rebounds: Qudus Wahab, 7.3 rpg
Assists: Primo Spears, 5.3 apg Rankings

Marquette: #11
Georgetown: #206
Game Projection: Marquette has a 90% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 84-70.

The Stakes: Yep, we’re debuting The Stakes for the first time this season. It’s simple, but two-fold. The first part is don’t let one road loss turn into two. The second part is don’t take a Quadrant 3 loss to Georgetown that is just 11 NET ranking spots away from being a Quadrant 4 loss. Losing to Connecticut at the XL Center is understandable. Following that with a loss to the Hoyas, even on the road, is unforgivable.

SATURDAY MORNING STAKES UPDATE: Thanks to Butler’s win at Hinkle Fieldhouse over Xavier on Friday night, Marquette and Xavier are tied atop the Big East standings on Saturday morning at 11-3. A win for the Golden Eagles against Georgetown would move them into first place by themselves.

Last Time Out: Georgetown led at halftime, but Marquette won, 95-73. Four Golden Eagles scored in double digits led by Kam Jones with 17 as MU went on a 17-2 run in the middle of the second half to turn a 56-53 lead to 73-55 and keep things sailing from there to the final horn.

Since Last We Met: Georgetown lost a lot of games, but not all of them! Lost by 15 at home to Seton Hall, lost tight at the Finn to Villanova, lost by 13 at Xavier..... and then beat DePaul, 81-76, at Capital One Arena, the same location as Saturday’s game. DePaul went on a 12-2 run in the middle of the second half to rally from a nine point deficit, but the Hoyas matched it with a 10-0 run in the final five minutes to pull away and get not only their first Big East win of the year, but snap their record setting Big East regular season game losing streak.

Aaaaaand they haven’t won since, but they’re also not getting destroyed. Lost by 2 at St. John’s, lost by 10 at home to Creighton, then by six to UConn, and they led that one, 61-60, with just over three minutes left. In their most recent game, they went out to the AMP in Rhode Island and lost by 12 to Providence. That game turned on a 16-1 run in the first half by the Friars and PC held them at arm’s length from there.

Tempo Free Fun: And so, with the memory that Georgetown was just awful and falling apart constantly in the second half of games a month ago when Marquette hosted them, we have to take into consideration the possibility that the Hoyas are.... not good, but definitely dangerous? Since the end of the MU/GU game in Milwaukee, says that Georgetown has been playing like the #126 team in the country. That’s miles and miles better than the #205 team that they looked like at the end of the first Marquette game on their schedule.

If we just look at their performance from the DePaul victory forward.... okay, they’re still #126, but let’s do some comparisons since January 22nd:

DePaul: #154
St. John’s: #180
Butler: #274

That’s a 4 or 5 game sample size for Big East teams, sure, a little on the small size, but the point is this: Georgetown’s not good, they’re not suddenly making a run at the NCAA tournament much less the Big East regular season title.... but they’re not the wildly incompetent team that they looked like in the first few weeks of the season, and they’re very clearly not the worst team in the league, either. Credit where it’s due to head coach Patrick Ewing for getting the team to play better as the season goes along.... it’s just not going to be enough to save his job a month from now.

That brings us to the matchup at hand. In the first meeting between the two squads, Georgetown led by as many as seven in the first half, largely because the Hoyas were on fire shooting the ball. They were 4-for-7 from long range, with Wayne Bristol hitting both of his attempts, and Georgetown backed that up with 10-for-19 shooting inside the arc. Meanwhile, on the other end, Marquette was having trouble getting their shots to fall, connecting on just 42% overall and going 2-for-14 beyond the arc. Had Georgetown not coughed the ball up on 26% of their possessions, Marquette might have been a lot worse off.

What changed in the second half? Honestly, as far as Marquette’s defense goes? Nothing. Georgetown shot 3-for-7 from beyond the arc, 10-for-19 inside it, and the Hoyas committed another 10 turnovers. Marquette’s offense just went supernova for 20 minutes. Kam Jones went from missing all of his long range attempts in the first half to hitting three of his four tries to lead MU to a 10-for-15 three-point shooting performance in the second half as the Golden Eagles hung 1.69 points per possession and 61 total points on the Hoyas after the break.

I’m just gonna say it because we’re all thinking it: 1) Marquette can’t depend on doing that again because 2) They’re just not gonna do that again.

Can they figure out a way to score 1.28 per trip across 40 minutes of basketball? It’s possible, sure, but that was MU’s fourth best offensive performance of the season. That’s probably not going to happen either, so the Golden Eagles are going to have to mix together a quality 40 minutes on both ends of the court.

The mystery at the center of all of this is the fact that Brandon Murray, Bryson Mozone, and Jay Heath didn’t play in that game in Milwaukee. Murray is averaging 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game for the Hoyas this season. He missed the MU game, the Seton Hall game immediately after that, and then GU’s game against Xavier two contests later. He’s played in each of the last five, and not coincidentally, Georgetown has looked the best they’ve looked all season. Mozone is a slightly different situation, averaging 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He’s been in and out of the starting lineup this season, but the Marquette game was the first and only contest he’s missed all year. His minutes have been trailing off lately, but part of that is the return of Heath to the active roster. Heath had been starting for the Hoyas after he got a late eligibility clearance following his transfer from Arizona State, but a hand injury cost him the entire month of January. Heath is a 41% three-point shooter this season, and in the 14 games he’s played this year, he’s averaging 12.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

For a lot of reasons, this isn’t the same Georgetown team that Marquette stomped in the second half. They have a few more bodies in the rotation, and they’re playing a lot better over the past few games. Hard to say if those things are connected for sure, but all of it adds up to the fact that Marquette can not have a bad defensive start like they did against UConn on Tuesday. The Hoyas are definitely capable of doing it, they did it to Marquette in Milwaukee, it just didn’t matter at the final horn.

Stat Watch: After four assists last time out against Connecticut, Tyler Kolek has the 3rd most assists by a Marquette junior. That item is less important now though, as Kolek has jumped into the top 10 in all time assists seasons. Kolek has stacked up enough assists this season to pass himself last year for the 7th most assists in a single season by any Marquette player. He is seven assists away from the 7th 200 assist season in Marquette history and when he gets there, he will be just the fourth Marquette player to do it since Tony Miller had at least 200 in all four of his seasons. Kolek is 16 assists away from tying Sam Worthen in sixth place, so it’s going to be a minute before he changes spots. Worthen is also the guy holding down the #2 spot on the junior year list, so we’ll reconvene for MU’s next game.

Stat Watch #2: Oso Ighodaro has tied Dwyane Wade for the 7th most blocks by a Marquette junior. He needs four more to catch Luke Fischer and Dwayne “Not The Rock” Johnson in a tie for fifth place.

Stat Watch #3: Kam Jones has the 9th most made triples by a Marquette sophomore. He needs two to catch and three to pass Robb Logterman and Travis Diener in a tie for seventh.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 8-2, with Tuesday’s loss to UConn snapping a five game winning streak.

Georgetown Last 10 Games: 1-9, with a four game losing streak after beating DePaul at home on January 24th.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 20-14

Current Streak: Since the 2017-18 season, Marquette has won nine of the last 11 games between the two sides, and after winning in Milwaukee earlier this year, they have won six of the last seven meetings.

Follow Along On Twitter

@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
@MarquetteMBB - Official MU account
@GeorgetownHoops - Official Georgetown account
@CasualHoya - our SB Nation friends who follow Georgetown
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat writer