Game Preview and How to Watch: Marquette Golden Eagles at UCLA Bruins
The Bruins will host the Golden Eagles tonight in just the third meeting between these teams.
It’s been a long time since the Bruins played the Marquette Golden Eagles. The last time these teams met was on December 18, 1964 in Milwaukee. UCLA won that game 61-52 with Gail Goodrich scoring 21 points. The other meeting was also in Milwaukee on December 31, 1949 and the Bruins won that game 68-52.
So, clearly, the freaky goal for tonight is to hold the Golden Eagles to just 52 points.
This year, the Golden Eagles are 4-1, having beaten Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Eastern Illinois and Green Bay all easily. They also beat Wisconsin by two, 67-65. The Badgers have a good reputation. So, that win is a nice notch on the belt for the Golden Eagles.
Meanwhile, their lone loss came against Oklahoma State, 70-62.
Like UCLA coach Mick Cronin, Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski has emphasized defense and the Golden Eagles have responded with strong defensive efforts so far this season.
For the Golden Eagles, the magic number seems to be 70. When they hold an opponent to less than 70, they win and they also win whenever they score at least 70 points themselves. So, playing tough defense will be a key tonight for the Bruins, who seemed to forget everything they learned last season when they played San Diego State.
After shaking off the rust against SDSU and Pepperdine, the Bruins have held their last three opponents to less than 60 points while putting up at least 76 points in each game.
So, overall, tonight may be a very low scoring game.
Marquette will play with two guards and three forwards, which will be a bit of a change for the Bruins after UCLA has faced several teams this season which play three guards and two forwards.
The Golden Eagles are led by senior guard Koby McEwen, who is averaging 16.6 points per game. On Tuesday night against Green Bay, McEwen lit up the scoreboard for 28 points, including 15 points from behind the arc. At 5 of 9 from long-range, McEwen was on fire on Tuesday. Tonight, UCLA needs to do everything possible to stop McEwen from shooting threes, given that more than half his points against Green Bay were three-pointers.
Freshman forward Dawson Garcia is second in scoring for the Eagles. He’s averaging 12.8 points per game. While he is shooting 58.3% from three, so far this year, he has only attempt twelve shots and made seven. So, while he may be very accurate from long-range, the fact that he doesn’t take those shots that often makes him less of an outside threat than McEwen.
Senior forward Jamal Cain is the third Golden Eagle averaging double figures. He’s currently averaging 10.6 points per game. He is a much lower percentage shooter than McEwen and Garcia, shooting 37.8% overall and 38.1% from three, but he makes up for that by being the second-best rebounder on the team, averaging 6.8 rebounds per game.
The name of one Golden Eagle may be familiar to many Bruin fans. D.J. Carton played 20 games for Ohio State last season and started in three where he averaged 10.4 points per game. He left Ohio State after suffering mental health issues and transferred to Marquette. Hopefully, he has gotten the help he needed as he is a very talented player. Of course, we hope he gets better both mentally and physically, just not against the Bruins tonight. Carton is the team leader in assists with 5.4 per game.
Senior forward Theo John rounds out the Marquette starting five. John is the team’s leading rebounder with an average of 8.6 per game. While he doesn’t shoot often, he is very accurate when he does shoot. He leads the team with a 68.4% shooting percentage and he has made both of his three-point attempts.
The sixth and seventh men for the Golden Eagles are sophomore Symir Torrence and freshman Justin Lewis. Torrence has actually started three games so far this season, but Lewis has played two more minutes than Torrence. Both players are averaging more than 20 points per game. So, expect to see a lot of each of them.
Marquette looks to be the toughest opponent UCLA has faced since San Diego State. It would be a huge boost for the psyche of the Marquette program for the Golden Eagles to come in to Pauley Pavilion and beat the Bruins, even if Pauley is empty. Hopefully, Coach Cronin has the Bruins prepared to play one of the toughest games on their schedule because UCLA’s schedule gets tougher in the weeks to come with both Kentucky and Oregon on the horizon.
Overall, I think tonight’s game is a toss-up, but I’ve got to go with our guys. Prediction UCLA 58, Marquette 52.
UCLA Men’s Basketball (4-1, 1-0)
Opponent: Marquette Golden Eagles (4-1)
Series Record: UCLA leads, 2-0
When: 6:30 pm PT, Friday, December 11, 2020
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Pac-12 Network National and Los Angeles with Ted Robinson and Bill Walton
Live Stream: Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app
AM 570 in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
Satellite Radio: SiriusXM Ch. 382
And, of course, here in The Mighty Bruin Game Thread!
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast