Tue, 31 Jan 2023

Before big week, Marquette hosts independent Chicago State

Field Level Media
26 Nov 2022, 07:55 GMT+10

Marquette will host two massive home games next week when No. 7 Baylor comes to the Fiserv Forum on Tuesday and in-state rival Wisconsin visits on Dec. 3.

But before the Golden Eagles (4-2) can focus on the Bears and Badgers, they have to bring the effort against Chicago State (2-5) on Saturday night in Milwaukee.

Considering the Cougars rank 356th out of the 363 Division I teams in Ken Pomeroy's rankings as of Friday -- and they've lost all five of their road games by double figures -- Marquette coach Shaka Smart will have a task to keep his players' minds on the present.

The task could be even tougher because Marquette spanked Georgia Tech by 24 Wednesday in the Fort Myers Tip-Off third-place game.

"I think there's a lot of areas where we can continue to get better," Smart said Wednesday on his postgame radio show. "As a group, we have to take a growth mindset."

Where can the Golden Eagles stand to grow? They're shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range, which ranked next to last among the Big East's 11 teams entering Friday's games. They're also just barely breaking even on the backboards (a 0.2 average rebounding margin).

On the plus side, Marquette has been forcing a plethora of turnovers (15.8 per game) and taking advantage of them in transition. Point guard Tyler Kolek shares second nationally with 7.8 assists per game as he has four teammates averaging double figures -- led by Kam Jones' 13.0 points per game.

Chicago State, one of two independent Division I teams, has yet to play a game that finished closer than 10 points. The Cougars won both of their home games, but have lost all of their road games -- including three in the last week at Kent State, Marshall and Cleveland State.

Sophomore guard Wesley Cardet Jr. paces the Cougars with 15.0 points and 3.3 assists per game. Elijah Weaver, a transfer guard from Dayton, is averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Six-foot-6 guard Jahsean Corbett adds 12.9 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds per night.

Weaver's strong showing in the early going has made second-year coach Gerald Gillion seem clairvoyant.

"I think Elijah is due for a breakout year," Chicago State coach Gerald Gillion told the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook in the preseason. "I'm not talking about breaking in terms of a college player. I'm talking about a breakout in terms of people will be calling him at the next level."

--Field Level Media

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