Marquette Wire

How Marquette can beat the Buckeyes

Photo+by+Xidan+Zhang%2Fxidan.zhang%40marquette.edu
Photo by Xidan Zhang/xidan.zhang@marquette.edu

Photo by Xidan Zhang/xidan.zhang@marquette.edu

Photo by Xidan Zhang/xidan.zhang@marquette.edu

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Marquette faces stiff competition when the team travels to Columbus, Ohio, for a battle with the No. 20 Ohio State Buckeyes at the Value City Arena Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles handled Tennessee-Martin 79-63 in their home opener last weekend, but it was not a particularly dominant outing. Marquette led by just eight points at halftime and struggled to pull away from the Skyhawks.

Ohio State is slightly down this season by its own standards, but the Buckeyes are still a top team in the Big Ten and should earn a high seed when March Madness rolls around.

Tuesday night’s game completes the home-and-home series between the teams. Ohio State and Marquette were originally scheduled to play on the USS Yorktown in Charleston Harbor, S.C. in 2013, but was infamously cancelled due to safety concerns related to excess condensation on the court. The first game of the home-and-home, played in Milwaukee, was a defensive struggle and the Buckeyes stymied Marquette in a 52-35 victory.

Several key contributors are back for Ohio State this time around. The Buckeyes no longer have Aaron Craft, but seniors Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams and Trey McDonald all return.

The Skyhawks exposed Marquette’s biggest weakness last Friday night: its lack of height. Tennessee-Martin out-rebounded Marquette by a 34-25 margin in the season opener and scored 17 second-chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. The Skyhawks challenged center Steve Taylor Jr. early and the strategy earned themselves 26 points in the paint.

The height disparity will be even larger against Ohio State, as the team has only two players listed below 6-foot-4, compared to four players of similar height for the Golden Eagles. The Buckeyes also dominated the glass in their season opener against Massachusettes-Lowell by a 35-24 margin.

Marquette will need to emphasize boxing out the bigger Buckeyes, especially on the defensive glass. That may involve bringing in more guards to crash the boards, which could hamper Marquette’s ability to get out in transition following misses.

Foul trouble was another problem against Tennessee-Martin. Four Golden Eagles – Matt Carlino, Deonte Burton, Duane Wilson and Sandy Cohen III – committed four fouls Friday night. Burton picked up his third and fourth fouls on back-to-back possessions early in the second half and did not re-enter the game. Carlino picked up his fourth on a technical foul.

Marquette can ill afford major foul trouble, and silly ones at that, with just nine active players. Expect Ohio State to go right at Marquette in the paint in an attempt to get its thin frontcourt in early foul trouble. Disciplined defense will be essential.

The Golden Eagles shot an embarrassing 18.9 percent in last season’s matchup and just 1-of-18 from 3-point land. The absence of Craft should help Marquette’s guards get more space for open looks, but Marquette will certainly need a better shooting performance against a stout defensive team.

The Golden Eagles utilized a full-court press occasionally against Tennessee-Martin, but coach Steve Wojciechowski may need to rely on his pressure defense to disrupt Ohio State on its home court. Marquette may have to use this strategy against teams bigger and better than they are. Generating turnovers and extra possessions will be crucial against Ohio State. Marquette must do its best to rattle Scott and freshman D’Angelo Russell, who could be the X-factor.

Marquette may not beat the Buckeyes, but a competitive performance in one of several measuring-bar games during non-conference play could be an encouraging sign of things to come later in the season.

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