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Opponent Preview: Marquette Golden Eagles

Marquette is out to a fast start in its second year under Shaka Smart.


Purdue (2-0) vs Marquette (2-0)

Game Day Info

Gavitt Tipoff Games

Tuesday, November 15th, 8:30 p.m.

Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana


Interesting Marquette Facts

  1. It wasn’t just Chris Farley’s Tommy Boy character Thomas Callahan III who fictitiously graduated from Marquette—the late comedian graduated from Marquette in real life. This is not basketball-related. I just love Chris Farley.
  2. Prior to leading Marquette to their first and only national championship (1977), Al McGuire became the first ever coach to be ejected from an NCAA Tournament Final in 1974.
  3. McGuire announced that he’d retire at the end of the ‘77 season which happened to end with a national title.

Shaka Smart

You know Shaka Smart’s pedigree. After a stellar career start at Virginia Commonwealth, he took the head coaching job at Texas, where he lasted for six years. In his first year at MU, he led the Golden Eagles to a 19-13 regular season record, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. They were selected into the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round to eventual runner-up North Carolina.

His teams are organized, fast-paced, and capable of giving anyone fits.

Starting for Marquette

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Hometown
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Hometown
Point Guard 11 Tyler Kotek Jr. 6'7" 190 Cumberland, RI
Wing 4 Stevie Mitchell So. 6'2" 195 Reading, PA
Wing 1 Kam Jones So. 6'4" 195 Memphis, TN
Forward 12 Olivier-Maxence Prosper Jr. 6'8" 230 Montreal, Canada
Center 13 Oso Ighodaro Jr. 6'9" 215 Chandler, AZ

Kotek is a quintessential point guard. He runs the show and has the 7th best assist rate in the nation over the first two games. The taller, more experienced guard will be a tough match up for Braden Smith, but is prone to turnovers (5 against Central Michigan). Smith has to get in his hip pocket and keep him from dictating the game.

Mitchell is a do-everything guard. He’ll play both wing spots and spend time at the point if needed. Aggressive on defense (a requisite to play for Shaka), he has 4 steals over two game, but is foul prone. In the season opener he fouled out in 21 minutes of play. Purdue looks to be a good free throw shooting team (in theory) and win an endless march to the line.

If a Golden Eagle lights it up from deep tonight, my money is on Jones. He has the green light, despite a rough start to the season. 3/13 on the season from deep isn’t ideal, but I’m more focused on the 13 than the 3. He shot 44% from 3 in conference play last season, hopefully he waits for conference season before getting hot again. On defense, like Mitchell, he’s hyper aggressive. According to KenPom he had the 13th highest steal percentage during conference play. Also like Mitchell, that aggression can be a double edged sword. Jones committed 4 fouls in 25 minutes against Central Michigan. Marquette needs a big game from Jones to win tonight.

Prosper starting his career as a raw, hyper athletic wing at Clemson before transferring to Marquette, where Shaka’s style better fits his game. Steals, rebounds, and hard drives to the hoop is the name of the game for the O-Max. He’s a physical specimen, but still raw and prone to turnovers. If Purdue can slow the pace, it takes away some of his game, and spotlights his flaws. This is a tough match-up for Gillis. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bigger Kaufman-Renn play extended minutes.

Finally, the center match-up in this game is truly a battle of styles. Oso is a bouncy player who is more of a forward than a true 5. He’s best as an off ball shot blocker, not a guy banging with the strongest Canadian since Dino Bravo. Oso’s only hope is Marquette’s style of play protecting him because Edey will use him as a toothpick if he’s left alone. Ighodaro could be a an issue for Zach on the other end of the floor, while not a shooter, he is a slasher who drives the ball and has a nice floater. Marquette is going to spread the floor and give him opportunities to take Edey one on one, if for no other reason than to try and draw fouls. He’s also an above the rim finisher on pick and rolls, which, as we all know, can be an issue for Purdue to defend. I expect to see Oso and Kotek run the high pick and roll to death. Smith and Edey do a better job of containing the Shaka high P&R than Lew Jack and JaJuan did back in the day.

Off the Bench for Marquette

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Hometown
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Hometown
Point Guard 22 Sean Jones Fr. 5'10" 175 Columbus, OH
Wing 5 Chase Ross Fr. 6'4" 195 Dallas, TX
Wing/Forward 23 David Joplin So. 6'7" 220 Milwaukee, WI
Center 21 Ben Gold Fr. 6'11" 220 Wellington, New Zealand

Joplin is the key problem for Purdue here. The kid has proven that when he gets hot, he can shoot. He scored 23 points in just 20 minutes against Central Michigan. The previous week, he didn’t convert a single bucket in 18 minutes. It’s a small sample size, sure, but Purdue poses a bigger defensive test than either of the Golden Eagles’ previous two opponents for the sophomore. If the Boilermakers can contain the Golden Eagles’ sixth man, they may pull away to where intentional fouls aren’t necessary.

Ben Gold is the wildcard. Inexperienced but already somewhat of a force in the paint, he’s the one thing stopping any potential paint domination from Purdue’s second stringers. He’s also the only center capable of making Edey work for it in the paint. The young New Zealander will get his first introduction to big time college basketball tonight.

Freshman Sean Jones is a shifty scorer who isn’t much to handle on defense this early in his career but provides high energy in a fast-paced offense. Essentially, he’s Marquette’s version of Braden Smith. Jones has the speed and talent to catch a bigger defenders off guard and take the ball coast-to-coast Purdue doesn’t stop the ball on defense.

Fellow freshman Chase Ross logged 22 minutes in his second career game for Marquette, scoring 11 points and showing there’s not much drop-off between the starters and the young guns who will almost assuredly become starters. Marquette has to use their bench because of their tempo, expect Ross to play big minutes again tonight.

Offensive Key

Pace can wear out Purdue’s offense here, especially if Edey is logging over 30 minutes. With the lane clogged, Marquette can be forced to outside shots, which may not be the worst thing for them; offensively adept with talented wingers, it’s really a matter of how open their shots will be. If they drive toward the basket, there’s really only one gatekeeper. That gatekeeper, unfortunately for Marquette, happens to be my pick for leader of blocked shots in the Big 10.

Defensive Key

If true freshman Braden Smith plays the majority of Purdue’s minutes at point guard, he will need to be quicker getting the ball past half-court against the full-court press employed by Shaka Smart. Marquette’s roster is riddled with wingers capable of poking away the ball and scoring/assisting in transition. Purdue has benefited from Smith’s speed and urgency everywhere except the few times I’ve seen him advance the ball a bit slowly and risk a few dribbles in front of pressing defenders, where a thieving guard could take advantage. If Marquette wins the turnover battle and can turn defensive prowess into quick points, it will be the difference in a high-scoring game.

Purdue Wins If

Purdue can win this game with a solid paint presence. I see this game as one of those back-and-forth scoring fests where one team pulls away late when forced to keep sending the opposition to the stripe for free throws. Look for Purdue to play small ball sandwiched between big ball (?) to open and close the game. This, of course, will rely upon Edey’s ability to finish down low; in the two games we’ve seen so far, he looked shook in game one against Milwaukee and immaculate in game two against Austin Peay. If he’s anywhere between those two offensively, Purdue closes out in the hypothetical scenario of a late, tight game.


Garrett Prediction

I’ll pick Purdue to escape 81-75. This will be one of those games during which, regardless who comes out on top, a display of some next-level Hack-A-Shaq tactics in the waning seconds will come into play.

KenPom Prediction

Purdue 79

Marquette 69