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

The Golden Eagles head to the nation’s capital looking for their sixth straight win as well as a sixth straight loss for the Hoyas.

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

#9 Marquette Golden Eagles (16-5, 7-3 Big East) at Georgetown Hoyas (8-12, 1-8 Big East)

Date: Saturday, February 3, 2024
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Tyler Kolek, 15.0 ppg
Rebounds: Oso Ighodaro, 7.1 rpg
Assists: Tyler Kolek, 7.2 apg

Marquette Injury Note: Kam Jones missed Tuesday’s game at Villanova with an ankle injury suffered in practice a week ago Friday. Jones played five minutes the next day against Seton Hall, but was clearly hobbled and should not have been playing, as evidenced by being held out 72 hours later.

Georgetown Stats Leaders

Points: Jayden Epps, 19.2 ppg
Rebounds: Supreme Cook, 8.2 rpg
Assists: Jayden Epps, 4.5 apg

KenPom.com Rankings

Marquette: #14
Georgetown: #174
Game Projection: Marquette has an 87% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 83-70.

Last Time Out: Marquette picked up an 81-51 victory over Georgetown in the first meeting this season between the two teams. A 20-2 run by the Golden Eagles in the first half at Fiserv Forum on December 22nd broke the game open, and a 29-7 run bridging halftime ended all discussion of a competitive game.

Since Last We Met: Things were not trending well for the Hoyas when these two teams met in Milwaukee in late December, and that has just continued to be the case. Georgetown has lost six of the seven games that they’ve played since dropping to 0-2 in Big East play with the loss to Marquette, and the only win was a 68-65 home edging of DePaul. The Hoyas were on the precipice of dropping that one as well, but four straight stops of the Blue Demons in the final four minutes helped them build a 66-61 lead and hold on from there.

After that, however, it’s been five straight losses coming into Saturday afternoon. They lost close at home to Seton Hall and by just one point on the road against Xavier, and losing by 13 to UConn at the XL Center isn’t that bad of a result for this particular Georgetown team. Losing by 24 at home to Butler? Bad. Losing by eight a week ago Saturday in perhaps the most oppressive environment a Big East team has ever seen on the road, as it was head coach Ed Cooley’s return to Providence, the team he spurned to take the Hoyas top job? Not too bad, although the GU faithful will point out that they were up 69-66 with three minutes left and gave up an 11-0 run to lose it.

Tempo Free Fun: Usually the first place we want to go with these second time around previews is “What was the biggest cause of the result last time they played?” I don’t think there’s anything particularly interesting about that box score to tell us why Marquette won by 30. The Golden Eagles didn’t have a very notable offensive night, scoring 1.09 points per possession and shooting just 34.5% from behind the three-point line. Kam Jones was honestly kinda bad, shooting just 3-for-14 overall, but it didn’t matter. The game largely tilted because Georgetown turned it over on more than a quarter of their possessions, and when the Hoyas weren’t coughing it up, they weren’t shooting it very well. Georgetown shot 42% inside the arc and just 20% — 5-for-25 — outside of it. Jayden Epps was particularly notable in that regard as Marquette induced him into shooting 1-for-8 from long range. Epps missed GU’s very next game, and he’s shooting just 15-for-51 (29%!!) on threes over their last six games. Do you think that they lost their last two games exclusively because Epps shot 5-for-26, or do you think that there are other problems?

I want to be clear about this: Georgetown is not a good basketball team. There’s no doubt about that. They weren’t expected to be good, and it seems that there’s nothing that head coach Ed Cooley can do about it at this point.

But even at 8-12 overall and 1-8 in the Big East, they are not awful. DePaul is awful. DePaul is the worst team on Marquette’s schedule. Georgetown is just middle of the road Major Six bottom of the conference not good. They are currently #174 in the country according to KenPom, #159 in the country according to BartTorvik.com, and #181 in the NET. If you want to argue that the worst team in the Big East shouldn’t even be that bad, I’m not going to disagree with you about it. But they are not anywhere close to as bad as DePaul is, and quite honestly, they’re better than even those rankings show.

Thanks to CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish teaching me how to filter data on BartTorvik.com, I can get a breakdown of what Georgetown has looked like, statistically speaking, during their current five game losing streak. Counting all results since January 7th, Georgetown is the #115 team in the country. See? Better than their full season rankings indicate. In fact, their offense has been inching towards elite in that time frame, ranking #27 in the country. For context: Marquette ranks #20 on that end of the floor in the same time period.

“But wait,” you ask, “how are they 0-5 if they’re a top 30 offense?” Yeah, that one should be obvious: They can’t get stops. Georgetown is #284 in the country in defensive efficiency during their five game losing streak. That means that the current skid is dragging their number down, as Torvik marks their season long efficiency at #272 in the country, right between Cleveland State and Albany. To put a specific on it, Georgetown’s defense is bad at the primary thing a defense should do: Stop you from making shots. During this losing streak, teams are putting up an effective field goal percentage of 62.2%, third worst in the country in that time frame. They are allowing a two-point shooting percentage of SIXTY-FOUR PERCENT, which is DEAD LAST IN THE COUNTRY, which Marquette might take as a dare to try and beat the 60 points in the paint and 75% shooting that they put up against Villanova in Milwaukee. Ken Pomeroy has talked at length about how three-point shooting percentages are largely influenced by luck, but y’all can’t be allowing 39.4% from long range if you’re giving up 64% inside the arc.

One more thing I want to point out: Stevie Mitchell missed the first meeting between these two teams. Marquette provoked Jayden Epps and Rowan Brumbaugh into five turnovers each without Mitchell, who currently ranks #22 in the country in steal rate according to KenPom.com. What’s going to happen when Shaka Smart turns Mitchell loose on the Hoyas?

Stat Watch: Oso Ighodaro needs one block to tie and two blocks to pass Trevor Powell for the 9th most blocks in program history.

Stat Watch #2: If available, Kam Jones needs one three-pointer to tie and two three-pointers to pass Brian Wardle for the 10th most three-pointers in program history.

Stat Watch #3: If available, Kam Jones needs one point to break a tie with Chris Crawford for the 43rd most points in program history. He needs two points to pass Scott Merritt and Jae Crowder, who are tied for the 41st most points in program history.

Stat Watch #4: Tyler Kolek needs five points to become the 52nd 1,000 point scorer in program history. He needs 12 points to pass Lloyd Walton for 51st place on the list, 19 to pass Jajuan Johnson at #50, and 20 to pass Luke Fischer at #49.

Stat Watch #5: Tyler Kolek needs eight assists to tie and nine assists to pass Travis Diener for the 3rd most assists in program history.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3 and on a five game winning streak.

Georgetown Last 10 Games: 2-8 with losses in their last five and eight of their last nine.

All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 22-14

Current Streak: The win in Milwaukee earlier this season gave the Golden Eagles five straight victories against the Hoyas. Since the 2017-18 season, Marquette has won 11 of the last 13 games between the two sides and eight of the last nine meetings.