What to watch for against Connecticut

Can the team improve its three-point shooting?

Despite what coach Buzz Williams has said about his team’s shooting abilities, this squad is at its best when it knocks down three-point shots.

In its seven Big East wins, Marquette hit 48.5 percent (48-of-99) of its 3-pointers. In its seven Big East losses, Marquette hit only 30 percent (35-of-117). The last time Marquette played Connecticut, it shot 33.3 percent (6-of-18) and only lost by eight, 76-68, and was in command of the game for much of the first part of the second half. Over the last three games, Marquette has only hit 21 percent (8-of-38).

Will the defense be focused?

Senior forward Jimmy Butler said after the first Connecticut game that the team was too focused on playing offense to be stellar on the defensive end.

Marquette isn’t a team that can give lackadaisical defensive effort given how it plays defense in a normal game – opponents shoot 44.6 percent from the floor this year, which is second worst in the Big East.

Marquette is the type of team that likes to get out and run the floor, and tough defense often leads to fast break opportunities, which create easier scoring opportunities for a team struggling offensively.

Which Chris Otule will we see tonight?

The redshirt sophomore center delighted Marquette fans with a near double-double (10 points and eight rebounds) against Seton Hall Saturday — his first Big East game posting a double-digit point total. That was against a Pirate team that featured only two players taller than 6-feet-9-inches, who played a combined 27 minutes.

Junior forward Herb Pope (10.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game) also found himself in foul trouble. Otule entered that game averaging 4.3 points and three rebounds per game. Tonight will tell if Otule has turned a corner, as he will battle sophomore center Alex Oriahki (10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds per game).

Can Dwight Buycks regain form offensively?

It was nice to see the senior guard score 11 points against Seton Hall last Saturday. It was the first time since the Connecticut game on Jan. 25 that Buycks scored in double figures.

What made Marquette a dangerous Big East team in early January was that it had four players who could score in double figures. If you look at Marquette’s last five games, it has only scored more than 70 points once. If Buycks gets back to posting double-digit points, the offense will improve and Marquette should be in a position to take down the Huskies.