Chris Otule led the charge and was efficient in the post all night pouring in a team-high 17 points, two shy of his career high, on 6-6 shooting from the field and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes. Buzz Williams calls his squad a "paint touch centric team" as Marquette scored an incredible 76 points in the paint. Sophomore Steve Taylor had 16 points on 7-10 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. "The type of guys we have we can shock the world nightly," said Taylor.
[Steve Taylor has 16 pts and 11 rebs]
"Steve had never started a game so I think Steve had some of the same stuff what our freshman had," said Williams. "I think Steve can be a core guy. I think his bounce is coming back around with his body and I think that will continue to improve. Steve is really smart. Steve has some maturity about him. Steve is Jamil Wilson in regards to his personality, vocabulary and who he is. He is just young and as his career plays out, you talk about a guy representing your program on the floor and off the floor. He's a really good kid."
Marquette's new starting point guard Derrick Wilson recorded a career-high 10 assists with just one turnover. Wilson threw an alley-oop pass to Deonte Burton for a one-handed dunk which grabbed control of the game and piled on the momentum early in the second half. When asked about the dunk, Burton replied, "It felt really good. I'm just glad he trusted me enough to throw it up."
[Deonte Burton powers in for 14 pts]
Jake Thomas hit back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the second half and finished with 11 points. Thomas had not made a shot since Feb. 25, 2013 at home against Syracuse. "I called a timeout to shake his hand," said Williams. "We prayed for him and prayed over him. I thought it was a great moment for our program. He needs to be on the scouting report. That guy right there shoots. That guy right there when he shoots, he scores. We need that. That spaces the floor even more."
[Jake Thomas drills three deep threes]
The biggest surprise of the game turned out to be freshman Deonte Burton who in his second collegiate basketball game finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds (4 offensive) along with 2 steals and a block. "I feel more comfortable playing in the system and it showed," said Burton. "It helps my confidence a lot. I know I can produce."
Williams talked highly of Burton postgame stating, "His body can endure. I think he has really good instincts but your instincts can't be revealed unless you're playing extremely hard. Once he can muster the emotion and the will power to play hard every possession, you'll see his instincts more and more. He's got a little bit of Jae Crowder in him. His instincts are going to dominate his game."
Although Grambling State came into tonight not winning a single game last season, Burton said Marquette treated them like any other opponent they would play. "I think it's the same type of preparation for every team," said Burton. "We treat every team as if they were a championship team."
Marquette shot 54.9% (45-82) from the field in the win and finished with 33 assists as a team. A concern for the Golden Eagles going forth is their guard play. It took until 4:38 remaining in the first half for Marquette's backcourt to notch their first basket courtesy of a Todd Mayo jumper from the top of the key. Derrick Wilson was the only player not to score in the game.
[John Dawson had 6 assists, 4 reb and 2 ST]
Marquette dominated the glass offensively and defensively outrebounding Grambling State, 56-41. According to Williams, "You get a shot every possession. There's a chance you're going to get fouled. I think offensive rebounding has become more important than it has in a long time. Turnover percentages become important. We have improved since we played Friday night and I was pleased and I feel much better about our team tonight after two games then I did after the first game and hopefully we can grow and continue to improve.
Marquette has won 27-straight home games, which is the second longest streak in NCAA Division I and will have a big test Saturday at noon hosting the powerhouse Ohio State Buckeyes under head coach Thad Matta.
According to Williams, "Ohio State is good enough to win a national championship. Their perimeter may be as good collectively as anybody in the country. If Thad Matta had the ego that most head coaches at this level had, everybody would vote him for national coach of the year. You look at what he's done throughout his career not only at Ohio State, it's phenomenal. Forty-eight-years-old and the things that he's accomplished are off the chart. We've studied him since the summer. They will pose and put a lot of pressure on us in many ways from the opening tip."