Fast break and ball movement key to Marquette’s night in the paint

Buzz Williams’ new terminology, paint touches, has taken a life of its own.

While it certainly is not a new philosophy for basketball coaches, wanting teams to get the ball into the painted area of the court for high percentage shots and to suck defenses in, Williams has insisted that, night in and night out, his players make an effort to get the ball to the paint on each possession.

Wednesday night, a combination of excellent ball movement in half court sets and creating turnovers that led to fast break points had Marquette living in the paint, leading to a dominating 83-64 win over St. John’s Wednesday night.

A lackluster first half saw four Golden Eagles pick up two personal fouls and limited Marquette’s two leading scorers, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, to a combined 20 minutes and six points.

Without Johnson-Odom and Crowder, Marquette slowed its offense and used excellent ball movement to get the ball to the paint, specifically to sophomore Davante Gardner, who finished the first half with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

The results were evident as Marquette had 34 paint touches in the half, which resulted in 12-for-22 shooting and 31 points. On the flip side, when the Golden Eagles did not get a paint touch during a possession they went 0-for-6 from the floor.

In the second half, the story revolved around the team’s defensive effort.

Thanks to contested shots, solid defensive rebounding and active hands, Marquette finished with seven steals, 21 fast break points and 34 points in the paint in the final 20 minutes.

Here are the unofficial final stats, in regard to paint touches:

— When the ball touched the paint on a Marquette possession, the Golden Eagles were 32-of-50 which resulted in 77 points.

— When Marquette did not get a paint touch, the Golden Eagles shot 1-of-9 which resulted in six points.

The first set of numbers do not necessarily mean Marquette scored in the paint, but rather that the final shot of the possession was taken after the ball touched the paint at least one time.

Of the four 3-pointers Marquette made Wednesday, three of those possessions began with a paint touch.

Unofficially, Marquette finished the game with 66 paint touches. Williams’ goal each night is to finish with 47 paint touches.

St. John’s does not have the size of a Syracuse or Connecticut, but Marquette’s ability to find paint touches at will and make good on those touches clearly had a positive effect on the game.

It sure looks like Williams knows what he’s talking about.

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