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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: Men’s basketball looks to bounce back vs. Georgetown

Photo by Jordan Johnson
Marquette lost its conference opener to Xavier, 81-77. The Golden Eagles are 1-3 in first games of BIG EAST play under head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Marquette isn’t the only team to miss an opportunity in its conference opener.

After leading by 20 points at halftime, the Georgetown Hoyas slowly imploded against the Butler Bulldogs, who won 91-89 in double-overtime on a layup in the waning seconds. KenPom, a prominent college basketball analytics site, gave the Hoyas a 95.8 percent chance of winning at one point.

Marquette’s 91-87 loss to the No. 6 Xavier Musketeers wasn’t quite as dramatic and was back-and-forth throughout the night. The Golden Eagles several squandered chances to seize the advantage including an empty fastbreak with the score tied at 80-80 and two minutes remaining.

“(Xavier) was able to get key stops at key times and we left a few points on the board that we would normally make,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “When you combine those two things … you’re going to come out on the wrong end more times than not.”



While neither Marquette nor Georgetown has freshmen in a starring role, first-year players are critical parts of both teams’ rotations.

“They’re definitely going to be a key to our ball club,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said about his freshmen. “They’re going to have to continue to grow, continue to step up, if we’re going to be successful.”

Three of the Hoyas’ top nine rotational players are freshmen: Jamorko Pickett (26.3 minutes per game), Jahvon Blair (19.1) and Antwan Walker (9.9). Either Pickett or Blair has scored in double figures during nine of Georgetown’s 12 games this season. Against Butler, it was Blair’s turn; he scored 17 points.

Blair’s counterpart on Marquette in terms of production in the conference opener is Jamal Cain. The forward out of Pontiac, Michigan scored a career-high 16 points and shot 4-for-6 from three. Fellow freshmen Greg Elliott and Theo John chipped in too, playing 16 and nine minutes, respectively.

Wojo sees Marquette’s youth movement as part of an ongoing process to become a contender. “We’re an improving young team,” Wojo said. “There were times when we showed growth and times where we showed how much we still have to improve.”



Prior to facing Xavier, Marquette strung together three straight games of holding its opponent under 50 percent on 2-point attempts for the first time since December 2016, inspiring hope among fans that the much-maligned interior defense might be improving.

The Musketeers quickly shattered those hopes, shooting 61.5 percent from inside the arc.

“Obviously, we have to protect our paint at a higher level,” Wojo said. “There’s probably a number of things that effected that.”

One similarity between Xavier and Georgetown is a tendency to push the pace. Georgetown uses an average of 15.4 seconds of shot clock on offense while Xavier uses 15.5. Both marks are among the top 40 in the country.

The Golden Eagles struggled to deal with that increased pace. Xavier outscored Marquette in fastbreak points, 18-11, and often forced Marquette to foul in the fastbreak to prevent the Musketeers from widening that gap.

Wojo saw plenty of other weak points in Marquette’s 2-point defense. “Transition points off our turnovers; they got 16 of those,” Wojo said. “Those usually occur in the paint when you turn it over. I thought off the ball screen defense, we weren’t as good as we needed to be … there’s a lot of things.”



Conference play always brings a bump in intensity and that goes double for the BIG EAST, which is projected to send at least five of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament.

“All the teams that are in the BIG EAST right now are all outstanding teams,” said Ewing, who played at Georgetown from 1981-’85. “We have outstanding guards and outstanding players, probably more now than when I played.”

The BIG EAST’s quality is especially relevant to both Marquette and Georgetown since neither team has a true quality win yet. Georgetown played the softest non-conference schedule in the country, per KenPom, and has lost its only two games against teams in the country’s top 200.

Three of the Golden Eagles’ four losses came against ranked teams and they do have four victories against KenPom top 100 opponents. None of those wins were against the nation’s top 50 teams, which makes quality wins in conference play essential to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

Georgetown isn’t one of the conference’s best teams, but beating them will be a tough task all the same.

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