Given opponent (Big East partner) and venue (on the road in Tampa Bay), Marquette had its most dominating performance of the 2012-’13 season in a 70-47 victory over South Florida on Wednesday night. I went back and watched the film again to do some in-depth analysis, and here are three things I found.
1. Cadougan shines on both ends
I said on Twitter about two weeks ago that Cadougan was rapidly becoming Marquette’s best player. Vander Blue is Marquette’s best scorer and most athletic player, Davante Gardner its most efficient scorer and perhaps Jamil Wilson or Chris Otule its best defender, but as a complete player I’m not sure anyone puts it all together like the Toronto point guard.
And if last night was any evidence, it certainly helped this cause. On offense Cadougan was solid, going for 11 points, five assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes. The three turnovers were a bit high, but he had just one in 16 minutes before halftime. He initiated most of Marquette possessions where a paint touch occurred (see below) and was relentless attacking the basket.
But where he really showed his worth was on the defensive end. I tracked each South Florida possession and noted which Marquette player was defending the ball when a shot went up, ball was turned over or a player was fouled. Here’s what I found.
South Florida had two shot clock violations, so the turnover numbers only come out to 17, not 19. Cadougan’s defense on point guard Anthony Collins was superb, and he was responsible for four South Florida turnovers despite only having two steals. Marquette as a team had five steals for 17 South Florida giveaways, so 12 had a Marquette player impact the possession without getting credit for it in the box score.
*Note* Jamil Wilson also was very impressive both inside and out on the defensive end yet only had two defensive rebounds and one block. Juan Anderson continues to improve defensively, grabbing five defensive rebounds and a blocking a shot. His numbers above were solid, as well.
*Another note* Steve Taylor is still very lost on the defensive ends, and even the numbers don’t do it justice. Not sure if that’s the reason why he only played six minutes, but it could have been.
2. Paint touches early and often, offense efficient
We tracked Marquette’s paint touches against Louisville and felt it was right to do so again against the Bulls. Marquette finished with 24 points in the paint, down from the 34 they had 10 days again in Milwaukee against the same opponent. But, like it was against the Cardinals, Marquette’s offense was extremely efficient when getting the ball inside.
Here are those numbers, based on Marquette’s 61 possessions.
— Marquette had 38 possessions with a paint touch. They shot 20-of-28 from the field for 52 points (1.37 points per possession) and turned the ball over three times. They just reached the 49 paint touch total that Buzz Williams wants his teams to reach. It accounted for 63 percent of Marquette’s possessions, six percent close of what Williams looks for.
— Marquette had 23 possessions without a paint touch. They shot 3-of-13 from the field for 18 points (0.76 PPP) and turned the ball over 10 times.
Williams already knew, and has known for five years, but paint touches is a seemingly fool-proof way to measure efficiency. Marquette scored 24 paint points, meaning eight shots were made on a paint touch that didn’t come in the painted area (technically the Sun Dome didn’t color in their paint).
3. Finally a blowout, but can they add to it?
Marquette needed this win, but also needed this kind of win. Blowout wins over Mississippi State, UMBC and Savannah State were nice but expected. The Golden Eagles needed a dominating performance that could potentially push them forward as contenders in the Big East. They looked the part last night.
We went back and looked at each of Buzz Williams’ seasons, and how his team has responded after blowout wins. Did they use the momentum? Was it just another game? The former seems to be the case.
Marquette’s “big” wins usually have come earlier in the conference season, but three of four times the Golden Eagles have used that blowout victory to pile on the wins in the next seven games. The outlier — Jimmy Butler’s 2011 group — lost four games all to teams ranked in the top-17 of the country at the time.
Marquette’s next seven games will include four against ranked opponents, but this could be the kind of confidence booster needed to push Marquette from a team racking up wins on easier competition to legitimate contenders in what has been a wacky Big East season already.