Friday, November 18, 2016

Michigan dismantles Marquette to reach 2K Classic championship game

NEW YORK -- Behind five players in double figures and a 35-11 run to close out the first half, Michigan wasted little time in running Marquette out of Madison Square Garden, scoring a 79-61 victory to advance to the championship game of the 2K Classic. The Wolverines (3-0) will face SMU in Friday's 7 p.m. tipoff, while Marquette (2-1) meets Pittsburgh in the 4:30 p.m. consolation game.

Points Per Possession
Michigan: 1.07 (79 points in 74 possessions)
Marquette: 0.85 (61 points in 72 possessions)

Effective Field Goal Percentage
Michigan: .594
Marquette: .444

Free Throw Rate
Michigan: 37.7%
Marquette: 33.3%

Offensive Rebound Percentage
Michigan: 17.1%
Marquette: 22.2%

Turnover Rate
Michigan: 23.0%
Marquette: 20.8%

Two Takeaways Overall
1) Textbook John Beilein basketball.
At least on the offensive end, that is. Beilein's trademark Princeton-inspired offense resulted in Michigan taking and making smart shots, shooting 51 percent from the floor for the night. The aforementioned .594 eFG mark is a product of the Wolverines draining nine three-pointers, many of which came on wide-open looks on the perimeter. However, the maize and blue pulled out a convincing victory despite an unusually high amount of miscues.

"We had 17 turnovers," said Beilein, lamenting his team's lack of proper ball control. "That is not like a Michigan team." The Wolverines' 23 percent turnover rate is just a tick above the 20 percent standard, a Mendoza line of sorts in determining acceptability in ball handling. The anomaly in turnovers was concealed by the stifling defense played throughout the night Thursday. With the exception of forward Luke Fischer and guard Jajuan Johnson, Marquette shot 9-of-31 as a team. "This is really our first test this season," Michigan guard Zak Irvin conceded. "Outside of our offensive ability that we had, I was really proud of our defense."

2) Marquette still remains a work in progress.
Picked seventh in the Big East preseason poll, the Golden Eagles are still a distance away from being a surefire lock to avoid the Wednesday night play-in games at the Big East Tournament when they return to the Garden next March. Said a matter-of-fact Steve Wojciechowski: "We didn't help ourselves by not doing the things we practiced on the defensive end. Good teams make you pay when you don't do your job."

While Marquette was more adept at taking care of the basketball than their opponent, their minus-3 margin in assists to turnovers (a 0.80:1 assist-to-turnover ratio for those of you scoring at home) was a statistic that clearly irked their head coach when he studied the final box score.

"I've said all along," Wojciechowski reiterated, "if our assist total is lower than our turnover total, we're in deep trouble."

Part of that can be attributed to the early-season struggle of point guard Traci Carter, who was ineffective with only one assist in 19 minutes, forcing Haanif Cheatham off the ball to lead the team with four helpers. As a former point guard himself under Mike Krzyzewski, Wojciechowski is an expert on the demands of the position and the need for consistency at that spot; which yielded a candid, yet concerning answer to the topic of fluidity in the floor general role in an excellent question broached by CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein:

"It's a really tough position to figure out on the fly, but that's where we're at," Wojciechowski admitted.

The margin for error for the Golden Eagles is slim, with Pitt looming in the immediate future, not to mention a road trip to Georgia before hosting a pair of NCAA Tournament teams in Fresno State and in-state adversary Wisconsin before Big East play begins against Georgetown on December 28. If Marquette cannot alleviate their backcourt and turnover issues, a long year could be on the horizon in Milwaukee.

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