Western Carolina was the high fat cupcake we had promised it to be. However, statistically speaking, that was the most one sided Marquette game of the Wojo era. While it cannot be stressed enough how bad Western Carolina is, it is nice to see Marquette return to dominating cupcakes. The last two seasons there have been points in these buy games where Marquette has struggled. That was not the case this season.
Marquette now begins the true heart of its non-conference season and what has affectionately become known as Badger Hate Week. Marquette will play three games in six days, ending with hosting the Rodents at the Bradley Center. All three opponents will be challenging and have decent chances to earn an NCAA bid (one of them as the MWC champion). The first test will be a road game in Athens, GA against the Bulldogs. The lovely and talented Andrei Greska wrote a solid article arguing that Georgia is the most important game of the season. Marquette should be extremely confident after dominating wins their last three times out. Meanwhile, Georgia struggled to put away a D2 team in their last contest. On paper, Marquette is the better team (22 spots higher in KenPom), but Marquette’s history of road games against the SEC should give any Marquette fan pause.
1: JJ Frazier: 5-10 155 lb SR PG: 31.4 mpg, 13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.3 tpg, .377 FG%, .889 FT%, .297 3P%
2: William Jackson II: 6-4 185 lb SO PG: 19.7 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .346 FG%, .833 FT%, .429 3P%
3: Juwan Parker: 6-4 205 lb RSJR SG: 26.2 mpg, 7.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .321 FG%, .786 FT%, .133 3P%
4: Yante Maten: 6-8 240 lb JR PF: 31.0 mpg, 20.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.4 bpg, 2.1 tpg, .545 FG%, .667 FT%, .417 3P%
5: Derek Ogbeide: 6-8 245 lb SO PF: 16.9 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .514 FG%, .636 FT%, .000 3P%
Mike Edwards: 6-9 225 lb SO PF
Pape Diatta: 6-7 220 lb JR SF
Jordan Harris: 6-4 185 lb FR SG
Kenny Paul Geno: 6-6 210 lb SR
E’Torrion Wilridge: 6-6 220 lb SO SF
Houston Kessler: 6-8 230 lb RSSR PF
Tyree Crump: 6-1 180 lb FR SG
Connor O’Neill: 6-6 220 lb SO SF
Brandon Young: 5-10 160 lb SR PG
• The number one threat on every coach’s scouting report for Georgia is Yante Maten. Maten comes from humble beginnings, a three-star prospect from Pontiac, MI ranked well outside the top 150. He made an impact as a freshman but was hardly a world beater, averaging 5 points per game off the bench. He exploded his sophomore season, becoming the Dawgs’ second best weapon behind PG JJ Frazier. Now in his junior year, he is averaging over 20 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. He ranks in the top 60 for points, top 75 for rebounds, and top 150 for blocks in all of Division 1. Valueaddbasketball.com has him ranked as a top 10 most valuable player. Maten is a complete offensive player. He has the strength to score in traffic, the speed to score off the bounce, and has even developed an accurate three-point shot. Stopping him will be key to any team playing Georgia. Maten is coming off his worst game of the season. He only managed 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 0 blocks on 5-12 shooting against D2 Morehouse.
• The second head of Georgia’s two headed monster is PG JJ Frazier. Frazier is diminutive in size but can put up monstrous production. Last season, he was top 10 in the SEC in about every category you would expect a PG to excel in: 3PM (8th), FTM (5th), FTA (10th), FT% (7th), assists (7th), and steals (8th). This gave him the third best offensive rating in the SEC (123.1). Fast forward a year and Frazier has taken a step back. His raw numbers have gotten worse in points, rebounds, assists, turnovers and 3P%. His eFG% has fallen off a cliff while his turnover rate has gone through the roof. Frazier looks a lot more defendable than he did a year ago. While Frazier can hit the three but he much prefers to get in the lane. Making Frazier win with jumpshots is a sound defensive strategy. This has been Frazier’s best defensive season. He has posted a defensive rating of 94.6 and a steal% of 3.1 in his first seven games.
• Georgia may be missing a starter for this contest. Starting wing Juwan Parker was kept out of Monday night’s game against Morehouse College with “Achilles Soreness.” Parker missed the entire 15-16 season after rupturing that same tendon. It seems like it was just a precaution so Marquette should plan on Parker being available. Parker is probably the third best player on the squad. His shooting has been questionable at best but he boasts an impressive rebounding percentage of 13.4%.
• Starting 2 guard William Jackson II is the only Bulldog who prefers to operate from outside the arc. All 9 of his made FGs this season have been long balls. He is 0 for 5 from inside the arc.
• Mark Fox is not afraid to run out the entire bench in a game. Georgia has played all 12 of its scholarship players in 4 of its first 7 games. Twice they only ran with 11 players (Juwan Parker being injured was one of those times) and the Dawgs went 10 deep in their 9-point win over George Washington. Marquette has the depth to match and likely has more stamina. Georgia’s roster features a lot of slow footed bigs while Marquette boasts a plethora of guards.
• Georgia is a poor three-point shooting team, ranking in the bottom 50 teams for 3PM per game (5.7) and bottom 100 teams for 3P% (32.8%). Everything Georgia does on offense relies on getting into the paint.
• On Defense, Georgia does not force many turnovers, averaging only about 13 forced a game. They use their length and size to deny teams from making easy buckets. Their FG defense of 40.3% is among the 100 best in D1. They then clean up the misses by grabbing 28.7 defensive boards a game, which is good for top 50 in the nation.
It’s hard to know exactly how good Georgia is at this point. Their only wins have come against cupcakes and a questionable George Washington squad in the CBE classic. They hung tough with #5 Kansas before eventually losing by 11. But they also only managed to beat D2 Morehouse College by a measly 14 points. Everything the Bulldogs want to do on offense is in the paint. They are a poor shooting team but have a lot of athletes who will try to blow by and bully their way to the rim. Marquette is a high-pressure man to man team. They may start with that, but Wojo should be prepared to switch to a lane packing zone. Georgia’s game against Kansas was still in question early in the second half before Kansas switched to zone and built a comfortable lead. Marquette does not have the personnel to stop Maten, and if Luke tries to hedge JJ Frazier off a high pick and roll, Frazier will score at will. Marquette must clog the lane and force Georgia to shoot over top. If Frazier, Jackson, and bench player Jordan Harris (5-7 3P) get hot, so be it. That is a better outcome than Maten going buck wild in the paint. If Marquette stays in man, they will need to be ready to hard double Maten whenever he gets the ball deep. On offense, Marquette needs to keep the ball moving. It should never stop in one place for too long. Georgia likes to play at a very slow pace (226th in adjusted tempo per KenPom). Whichever team controls the tempo will win this game. The Dawgs may have the depth to match Marquette, but beyond sixth man Mike Edwards, their depth isn’t very good. The more time the bench is in the game, the more likely Marquette is to win. Georgia is a little turnover prone so that can help Marquette’s defense to create some offense. Georgia has a very good half-court defense so the more times they can beat the defense down the floor, the better. If Marquette can build an early lead, Georgia may feel pressure to shoot more threes to catch up. Barring JJ Frazier catching fire, that will almost assuredly work out in Marquette’s favor.