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Warrior Battle Plans

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Four points.

That was the margin by which Marquette took their win over Villanova on New Years day. That game was in Milwaukee, however, on the Golden Eagles' home court — Saturday's game will give the Wildcats a chance at revenge in Philadelphia.

In their last meeting, Marquette had a 3 point lead at halftime and extended that lead by just one point in the second half. Villanova disappeared for large parts of the game, but had a strong showing at the end of each half to keep things close.

Jay Wright said afterwards. "We didn’t play 40 minutes but we did play the last 4 minutes of each half. When you’re talking about these things, that’s not a good sign, but I do see signs of promise in this group. We don’t have any glaring weaknesses but we’ve got a lot of little weaknesses — turnovers, shot selection."

In that game, Markus Kennedy had one of his best performances of the season, scoring 8 points with 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He played 25 minutes while nearly all of the teams' starters struggled with foul trouble. Four Wildcats fouled out of that game.

Marquette's stars are senior guard, Darius Johnson-Odom, one of the league's best scorers with 18.1 points per game (less than a point behind Maalik Wayns), and forward Jae Crowder, who averages 16.2 points per game. In addition to being Marquette's only players averaging a double-figure score, they are also the team's best three-point shooters, averaging 39.5% and 38.8% respectively.

Crowder also grabs a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game and nabs 2.3 steals as well. Against Villanova on New Years Day, he didn't manage to break into double-digits, however.

Johnson-Odom did break into double-digits, scorint 24 points against the Wildcats. Three other players scored 11 or more points, including forwards Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner and guard Todd Mayo.

Home or away, Marquette promises to be a tough out. Villanova can't take a breather and hope to win a game against the Golden Eagles -- and they can't afford to waste possessions on offense.

Kennedy had a good game against Marquette the last time out, but both he and Mouph Yarou have been inconsistent this season. The Wildcats will need one or both to establish a strong presence in the post on Saturday, and to work the glass for rebounding opportunities that will end opposing possessions and give the 'Cats second-chance opportunities when they miss.

Most importantly is to play consistently for 40 minutes. Too often this season either defense, offense, or both have been missing for 20 minutes per game. A stronger second-half defense in New York would have allowed the 'Cats to beat the Johnnies in regulation instead of needing an overtime to finish the job. Similarly, despite a good first half against Louisville, Nova came out flat in the second half and allowed the Cardinals to take control.

Villanova and Marquette have played more than a few close games in the last few years. The teams have been similar in many ways. This one promises to be no different.

The game will tip-off at Noon from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Tickets are still available.