The Friars (10-5, 1-1) will host their first Big East conference game of the season when Marquette visits the Dunk tonight at 6:30pm. PC split two road contests to open up Big East play and are coming off a disappointing 83-64 defeat at the hands of Creighton. The Golden Eagles (10-4, 1-1) are coming off a 9-point victory over Georgetown and had Xavier on the ropes before ultimately losing by 4. Marquette is led in scoring by a duo of guards with senior Andrew Rowsey (22.4 ppg) and sophomore Markus Howard (20.5 ppg).
While the Friars didn’t play well against Creighton I’m sure they were satisfied to take a split on the two road games to open up conference play. Now with the schedule moving back to the Dunk this week offers a great opportunity for the Friars. With Xavier coming in on Saturday the Friars definitely want to get a win tonight against a pesky Marquette team. So with all of that let’s get to my keys to the game.
Crier’s Keys to the Game
It has never been more evident the importance of Kyron Cartwright to the 2017-2018 Friars than the past two games. After about a week of rest Cartwright was magnificent versus St. Johns to the tune of 21 points and 15 assists, it was probably his best game as a Friar. In the game against Creighton Kyron re-aggravated his ankle in a collision with Kalif Young and his performance, along with the team’s performance, suffered greatly. Cartwright only played 22 minutes and had 2 points 5 assists and 4 turnovers. It also came as no surprised the team ended up shooting 39% from the floor and a lousy 13% from 3. Cartwright is listed game time decision tonight but I’m willing to bet he plays. It will be worth monitoring though how he’s able to get up and down the court and if he can’t facilitate offense the Friars could be in trouble. The season may hinge on the health of Kyron’s ankles and somebody may have to get him a pair of Curry 2s. They may be ugly shoes and I know we are a Nike school but they will protect his ankles damn it!
I don’t expect the Friars to light it up from deep as they did against St. Johns, when they shot 16/30 from beyond the arc, but they have to be better than the performance against Creighton. In this day and age there aren’t many basketball games you are going to win when you shoot 3/23 from three-point land. As stated earlier I think an injured Cartwright played a role in the poor percentage but as a team they have to move the ball better. Against St. John’s they had 24 assists whereas against Creighton they only had 13. The Friars need to have dribble penetration, kicking the ball out to open shooters and the shooters must connect at a better clip. Marquette is a lethal team from 3 so by my estimation the Friars are going to want to make at least 8 3s to get the victory tonight.
Defend the 3
For the second straight season Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski has built a roster fixated on taking and making the three-point shot. While they aren’t as hot from downtown as last season, when made a NCAA best 43% of their 3s, they take about 5 more per game this season and still connect on a formidable 40.6%. They are taking more threes this season because they really don’t have anyone that consistently score down low like they did in the past with Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer. The Friars are really going to have to communicate with each other tonight, have crisp rotations and close out on their shooters. The Friars will want to try to hold Marquette to lower than 35% from 3 and that should put then in a good position to come out with the win.
Going into the Creighton game I felt like either the St. Johns game would prove to be an aberration or the team really has the capability to play like this throughout conference play. Unfortunately in Omaha we didn’t get a clear answer because Cartwright ended up getting hurt. Now with the Marquette game being played 3 days later it’s tough gauge how the team will perform tonight because it’s tough to expect what we will get from an injured Cartwright. While Bullock may be our best scorer Cartwright has proven to be the oil that makes the engine go. If Cartwright cant be effective tonight the Friars could be in trouble against a potent offense like Marquette. There are two factors though that I think will ultimately lead to the Friars getting the win tonight. The first being the fact that this will be Marquette’s first road Big East game and also their second road game of the year. Marquette did go on the road and win at the Kohl Center against Wisconsin this year but the Badgers are having a down year. The other factor is that the Friars have a flexible roster that can hurt you in a number of different ways whereas Marquette is really one dimensional. If the 3s aren’t falling for Marquette they really have no other options to fall back on. So while I believe the Friars will have to make 3s and they cant let Marquette get hot from deep, the Friars will be able to go different routes to beat Marquette such as feeding the paint which something Marquette wont be able to do. I like the Friars to get their second Big East win of the season tonight.
Friars 77 Marquette 71