Marquette scored 90 or more points five times during the 2015-16 season. On Friday night, the Golden Eagles opened the season by doing just that.
MU proceeded to thump the Vanderbilt Commodores in Annapolis, Maryland as the two teams took part in the Armed Forces Classic at Alumni Hall. Off the back of 13 3-pointers, a staggering 35 points off turnovers, and 32 bench points, Marquette was able to etch their first tally in the win column to the tune of 95-71.
Jajuan Johnson led all scorers with 21 points on a 9-for-13 mark from the field. Haanif Cheatham and Luke Fischer dropped a combined 33 points - 15 and 18 respectively - on a combined 13-for-20 mark from the field. As a whole, MU shot 52 percent from the field and held Vanderbilt to a mark of just 37 percent and 29 percent from the 3-point line.
3 things we learned
1. Haanif Cheatham picked up right where he left off: Cheatham was one of the more impressive freshmen in the non-Henry Ellenson division on both the Golden Eagles and in the Big East a year ago. Now a sophomore, Cheatham seemed intent on getting right back to business. His aforementioned statline of 15 points on a 54.5 percent mark from the field, alongside six boards and three assists with just one turnover, give credence that he should continue to be one of the focal points on this team. Vandy’s no slouch either, so the fact that he was able to do this should leave MU fans with nothing but optimism.
2. Marquette, for at least one night, thrived from the outside: A season ago, Marquette was ranked 210th in the country in 3-point FG% (33.9 percent). On Friday night, the Golden Eagles were able to unload a barrage of 3-pointers on the Commodores, sinking 13 of their 31 3-point field goal attempts. It should be noted that Vanderbilt was the third-best team in the country in 3-point defense a year ago and that Bryce Drew’s teams typically allowed those kinds of marks at Valparaiso. Thus, it’s certainly promising that the Golden Eagles shooters - specifically Cheatham, Johnson, and freshman Sam Hauser who went 4-for-7 from long range - were able to be so effective from deep.
3. Marquette succeeded in a matchup that benefited them: Vanderbilt and Marquette hold a few similarities with regards to size and roster construction. As a result, the Golden Eagles were able to very much take care of business on Friday night. They outrebounded their opponent, something that some wondered if it would happen often due to the lack of size in their frontcourt. They were able to shoot well from long range, score in most if not all areas, and wreaked havoc off turnovers. Bryce Drew-coached teams have not fared well with taking care of the ball in the past, and it appears that, for a night at least, that trait seeped in to Vandy and MU simply did a great job of exploiting it.
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