MUBB takeaways: Jackson State

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MUBB takeaways: Jackson State

(Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@mu.edu)

(Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@mu.edu)

(Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@mu.edu)

(Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@mu.edu)

Marquette 80, Jackson State 61

Team Leaders:
Points: Haanif Cheatham (24)
Rebounds: Henry Ellenson (10)
Assists: Traci Carter (6)

Cheatham making his case as go-to scorer

Freshman Haanif Cheatham joins forward Henry Ellenson and center Luke Fischer as the only Golden Eagles to start all six games this season. He has quickly established himself as a reliable scorer who can be effective both on and off the ball. On Sunday, Cheatham netted a career-high 24 points with three rebounds and two steals. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point land and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

After beginning the season as the team’s starting point guard, Cheatham was shifted over to the starting shooting guard spot for the LSU game last week. He’s flourished in that role, averaging 13.3 points and 3 rebounds with fellow freshman Traci Carter at the point guard spot.

“I think he grows more and more comfortable with each possession,” said head coach Steve Wojciechowski. “I think playing off the ball helps him.”

Cheatham was known for his driving ability at Pembroke Pines High School, and that’s translated well to the college game. We’ve seen him be most effective when working from either corner on the floor. The defender knows Cheatham can take it to the hoop, so he’s given an extra step. Because of that extra space, Cheatham has shown confidence to take the 3-point shot – he’s 7-for-11 (64 percent) on the season. When he takes it inside the arc, he’s 15-for-25 (60 percent) this season. He could very well surpass redshirt sophomore Duane Wilson as Marquette’s top scoring guard.

Play from big men still important against weak opponents

Marquette’s weak non-conference schedule has been well documented. Jackson State, ranked No. 218 in the KenPom rankings before Sunday’s game, was one of Marquette’s toughest opponents before BIG EAST play. That means most of the team’s games from now until late December will be against teams who lack skilled big men. Fischer and Ellenson should thrive against all of those opponents, but Marquette cannot shy away from feeding them the ball just because it’s a lopsided game.

Ellenson recorded his third-straight double-double Sunday, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-11 from the floor in 27 minutes of action. Fischer also had a solid day in the paint, recording 11 points, 6 rebounds and 6 blocks in 30 minutes of play. The Golden Eagles, at times, strayed from the formula that worked so well against LSU and Arizona State: feed the big men. Marquette took 26 attempts from 3-point range, making nine of them (34.6 percent). For the Golden Eagles to succeed, they’ll need to keep Fischer and Ellenson involved on most offensive plays.

Turnovers still an issue

The Golden Eagles entered Sunday’s game averaging 16.6 turnovers per game, which ranked No. 329 of 351 teams in Division I. That average actually went down after committing 15 turnovers against Jackson State – it’s now at 16.3 per game.

There isn’t an individual culprit to blame for all the turnovers, but it’s certainly a cause for concern. Six different Golden Eagles committed two turnovers Sunday. The sloppy play is widespread. It’s a problem that needs to be sorted out during this weak stretch of non-conference opponents, because games of 15-plus turnovers against Villanova, Georgetown and Butler isn’t going to cut it.

Other notes

  • Freshman center Matt Heldt scored the first points of his collegiate career on a layup from Sandy Cohen. The basket at the 8:50 mark in the second half gave Marquette a 68-46 lead. The big man from Neenah has played sparingly off the bench, averaging 3.8 minutes in four games this season.
  • Fellow freshman Sacar Anim was the only scholarship player to not see the floor Sunday. Anim, like Heldt, has only been called upon when Ellenson or Fischer need to come out of the game. In most situations, head coach Steve Wojciechowski seems to prefer going with four guards and a big man rather than using the inexperienced Heldt or Anim.

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