Marquette comes at you in waves. The Golden Eagles are showing off their depth but most of all their talent recently. The Golden Eagles sit at 8-3 with Big East Conference play beginning Friday against Creighton.
Once again picked to finish ninth in the Big East, Marquette is hoping to surprise pundits again. In fact, the Golden Eagles showed their blueprint how they can once again go from predicted bottom feeders in the Big East to earning an NCAA Tournament berth in the team’s throttling of Notre Dame 79-63 on Sunday.
Kam Jones, certified bucket-getter
Jones was Marquette’s third-leading scorer a season ago as a true freshman. He is a microwave, heating up quickly. On Sunday, Jones poured in 25 points, hitting 10 of 20 shots. For Marquette to be successful it will need Jones to score. He did that Sunday and Marquette will need him to continue scoring at a high rate.
I'm not convinced Kam Jones isn't one of the best scorers in the country.
Yesterday vs. Notre Dame
0 to pic.twitter.com/TS6BgHiArI
— On The Clock (@OnThe_ClockBB) December 13, 2022
Ighodaro continues making strides
The Golden Eagles can be beat up on the boards. They were regularly last year. Oso Ighodaro does so many things well, but what Marquette needs most is for him to grab rebounds. On Sunday, Ighodaro snagged 18 rebounds. You can’t expect that many rebounds nightly but if Ighodaro can be close to double digits consistently that would be huge for Marquette. Ighodaro added 16 points for a monster stat line. He continues to show great strides in many facets of his game and against Notre Dame that was on full display.
— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) December 11, 2022
O-Max off-ball cutting & attacking the rim
Olivier Maxence-Prosper has a lot of raw athleticism. At 6-9 he is a long, athletic defender who can create some havoc on that end of the court. His offensive game is a bit ragged. His 3-point shot isn’t there at 31.3%, but he takes a decent amount. Against Notre Dame and recently, Prosper is cutting off the ball and getting the ball on the move near the rim and attacking with regularity. He is getting the ball in spots for success at over 15 points per game and 56 percent from the floor. When he on the attack, he is at his best and so is Marquette.
Kolek diversifying game
Tyler Kolek transferred to Marquette from George Mason with the reputation as a shooter. However, that didn’t come to fruition in 2021-’22. His playmaking ability was spectacular, though, averaging nearly 6 assists per game. Kolek averaged 6.7 points on just 32% shooting and under 29% from 3. Last year defenses started to almost dare Kolek to score and he couldn’t with lost confidence in his shot.
This season, Kolek has still looked great dishing the basketball, averaging 7.8 assists per game. But this year Kolek a threat scoring the basketball averaging 8.5 points per game on 42.1% shooting and a strong 40.6 percent from 3. Having Kolek as a threat to score really makes MU tough to guard. Against Notre Dame, Kolek had 11 points and six assists on 5 for 9 shooting. If he continues to play like that, Marquette is going to be tough to beat.
Blueprint for success been displayed
Marquette lost its top two scorers from a season ago in Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell. They will need returning players to step up. Against Notre Dame the Golden Eagles got many of the things they will need to see going forward. Against Notre Dame Kam Jones scored the ball, Kolek kept the defense honest offensively, Maxence-Prosper cut and scored around the basket and Ighodaro did a bit of everything and was all over the glass.
As the season goes on the talent of MU is flashing with more consistency. If Marquette continues to get the necessary contributions, expect the Golden Eagles to defy the pundits once again and return to the NCAA Tournament.