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Game Preview: Marquette Golden Eagles

The Wildcats are preparing for a rematch with Marquette on Wednesday night.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Xavier Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats return to action with a Wednesday night game against the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Villanova (12-2, 7-1 Big East) bounced back with a win over Georgetown on Sunday afternoon. It’ll look to carry that momentum into a rematch with the Golden Eagles.

It’s been a rough season for Marquette (9-10, 5-8 Big East). The Golden Eagles have had their fair share of highs and lows, but is currently undergoing a rough patch. They enter Wednesday after losing four of their last five games.

Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday and the game can be seen on Fox Sports 1.

Last time out

Marquette came firing out from opening tip-off, but Villanova settled in and exploded in the second half to win 85-68 on the road. The Wildcats capitalized on the Golden Eagles’ turnovers and tightened things up on both ends of the court during the second half. Collin Gillespie led the way with a game-high 22 points, including a 6-of-11 shooting performance from long range. Four other Wildcats finished in double figures: Justin Moore (14 points), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (13), Caleb Daniels (10), and Brandon Slater (10).

Jamal Cain paced the Golden Eagles with 15 points and seven boards. D.J. Carton and Theo John added 10 points apiece.

After that Dec. 23 meeting, the ‘Cats went on back-to-back COVID-related pauses. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this time around!

Making their mark

Newcomers Dawson Garcia and D.J. Carton lead the way for the Golden Eagles. Garcia, a four-star prospect coming out of high school, is looking like a Big East All-Rookie Team candidate. The stretch big man is one of Marquette’s top scorers, averaging 12.5 points, with a 39.2 percent clip from long range, as well as a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game.

He’s made an immediate impact since arriving at Marquette, and the same goes for Ohio State transfer D.J. Carton.

Carton had a bit of a lackluster start in his first few games in a Marquette jersey, but he’s only gotten better over time. He’s getting more comfortable in his new surroundings and currently leads the team with 12.7 points. He’s not a consistent shooter from beyond the arc, where he’s shooting just 31.4 percent, but gets the ball in his hands a lot and dictates the flow of the game.

Veteran presences

While Garcia and Carton have played key roles in their first season at Marquette, don’t discount the older guys.

Senior guard Koby McEwen is enjoyed an improved season and is one of the go-to players for the Golden Eagles. He’s scoring at a higher rate and is doing so more efficiently as well. The former Utah State transfer averages 12.3 points and has raised his shooting percentage to 40.9 percent, with a 35.7 percent showing from the three-point line.

Theo John reprised his role as the enforcer and physical presence in the paint. Meanwhile, Jamal Cain maintains his energy guy persona, but plays a much bigger role on the team and is stepping up to the task.

Losing their shine

This isn’t your typical Steve Wojciechowski-led Marquette team, at least not like the squads in recent years.

This year’s Golden Eagles squad is fairly average when it comes to perimeter shooting, after previously finishing in the top 15 in three-point percentage in each of the last four seasons. They don’t have the luxury of having multiple shooters at one time, like they did with Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, the Hauser brothers, and second-half of his graduate transfer season, Katin Reinhardt.

While those squads covered up defensive woes with a fast-paced, run-and-gun offensive approach, they don’t have the pieces to do the same this year.

They actually run a much more slowed-down game, running at their lowest tempo since Wojciechowski first came in 2015, according to KenPom.

They’re not much of a defensive stalwart, allowing opponents to shoot 35.6 percent from deep — ranking 257th in the country. Coupled with their issues with taking care of the ball and a turnover rate of 20.7 percent (251st in the country), and it’s easy to see why it’s been a shaky season.

That doesn’t mean the Golden Eagles don’t have upset potential, as they’ve taken down ranked opponents such as Wisconsin and Creighton, but the Wildcats already have the blueprint: punish the Golden Eagles whenever they turnover the ball and let it fly from deep, two things they did well last time out.