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The morning after Marquette: by the numbers

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A look at a resounding St. John’s performance

Wendell Cruz

St. John’s defeated Marquette at home last night, and after the first 18 minutes, it wasn’t particularly close in the second half.

The Red Storm held a lead for much of the first half, until an 11-2 run gave the Golden Eagles a two-point lead.

The Red Storm got their poise back, behind a layup from Figueroa and five points from Marvin Clark II working on Marquette’s big man Theo John. Shamorie Ponds’ personal 9-4 run against Marquette — including a pair of those NBA-distance-threes that look like bad shots but go in — gave St. John’s an 8-point cushion that ballooned to as much as 21 (Ed Morrow’s late free throw in thew final minute cut the difference to 20).

That was impressive to watch, as St. John’s outmuscled and out-toughed Marquette. Chris Mullin’s squad discombobulated Markus Howard — often tossing a taller defender on him (Justin Simon, Marvin Clark once or twice on switches), throwing different looks and generally playing with a high level of energy all game to disrupt the Marquette offense and make a number of Marquette players ineffective.

Sam Hauser took up 14% of the team’s possessions, lower than his average; Joey Hauser was limited to 28 minutes because of foul trouble, and Howard limited to 26 for ineffectiveness and foul trouble. The Red Storm found ways to attack the Golden Eagles in their man defense, and exposed defenders who could not keep up with the versatility of Marvin Clark II, Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa, playing as forwards.

Looking at the Four Factors (effective field goal percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, turnover percentage and free throw rate), the highlight is that St. John’s shined shooting the ball, with an eFG% of 63.4% to Marquette’s 46.8%.

That’s not the worst Marquette has shot the ball this season; but combined with an inability to get second chance points and a season-low in points from Howard, it was Marquette’s least efficient performance this season.

Kudos, St. John’s defense.

On the other side, the game was the Red Storms third-best eFG% performance of the season, topped only by the wins over Mount St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart. It was the fourth game this season that the Johnnies shot over 45% from beyond the arc.

Chris Mullin’s side coupled that outside shooting with a strong performance getting to the line. The free throw rate (free throws divided by field goals attempted) was 42.9%.

On the glass, St. John’s held their own against a team that has the size and skill to crash the offensive glass, keeping Marquette to grabbing 25.6% of their misses. The Johnnies forced Marquette to take 22 of their 41 two-pointers from away from the rim — making them lower percentage shots.

Notably, Marquette’s profile indicates that St. John’s should have an advantage in forcing turnovers — the Golden Eagles can be sloppy with the ball. And they had some poor moments — a few traveling calls here and there — but the Golden Eagles were below their average in possessions that end in a turnover.

St. John’s, after an over-eager stretch in the first half, were strong at keeping the ball to themselves in the second, with only 2 of their 11 turnovers coming in that half.

The team leaned on the starters; Justin Simon played 35 minutes, Ponds and Clark logged 36 and Mustapha Heron led the team with 37 minutes. The starters kept the ball moving, generally played within themselves, and took more shots inside the arc than outside (thanks, in part, to Marquette's man defense).

Upside

  • St. John’s really dominated much of the game on both ends.
  • The Johnnies rebounded well against some impressive big wings.
  • Shamorie Ponds was more on balance and attacked from the beginning of the game until the end, leading the team in scoring with 26 and facilitating. Ponds handled double teams and a taller, dedicated defender very well.
  • Mustapha Heron started the second half attacking the basket; his skill in drawing fouls was a major factor in him being a hard-to-guard scorer. His improved shooting (at 49%, his best career number in three years in college) is great, but his craftiness in attack and ability to move the ball could move the needle for his professional prospects — and for St. John’s offense.
  • Justin Simon was everywhere on defense.
Mustapha Heron & Justin Simon stifle Theo John
Wendell Cruz
  • Sedee Keita came back to play nine minutes! He had two fouls, two blocks, and seemed like he was rounding into shape, but the look of an actual big man was welcome.
  • The bench got a minute, and ran a set (with Greg Williams Jr. at point guard).

Downside

  • Though they are establishing a rhythm against high-level competition, the St. John’s starters played a lot of minutes.
  • Marquette did get some layups late using backdoor cuts. Perhaps by design (not wanting to leave three-point shooters open), there was no rotating defense to stop players like Joseph Chartouny from taking advantage with easy layups.