“We came in and took this like a real game,” Anderson said. “I think we really improved.”
After being left out of the starting lineup, sophomores Deonte Burton and Jajuan Johnson combined for 33 points off the bench. Surprise freshman starter Sandy Cohen III finished with 14 points, including three 3-pointers.
Wojciechowski explained the lineup featuring Anderson, Cohen III, junior Steve Taylor Jr., senior captain Derrick Wilson and graduate senior Matt Carlino was comprised of the team’s best “practice players” but stressed that the team needed more than five players to act as starters.
“This is a team that needs all nine guys until Luke Fischer gets back, and then we’ll need all 10 guys,” Wojciechowski said. “I think we can be a good team. We have a small margin for error. We need to stay healthy. Not committing turnovers and not taking bad shots is going to be huge.”
Carlino cashed in Marquette’s most well-rounded performance with eight points, six rebounds, 12 assists and six steals, while Steve Taylor Jr. pulled down 11 rebounds to go with his eight points.
[Matt Carlino gives a no look bounce pass to Juan Anderson for a basket. Carlino had 8 pts, 12 assists, 6 reb and 6 steals vs Wis Lutheran.]
The start was sloppy as Marquette failed to connect on its first six shot attempts. Finally, just over three minutes into the game, Carlino hit Anderson in transition, and the senior forward finished with a thunderous dunk for Marquette’s first field goal.
Burton showed great strength under the basket and dished some solid early assists. He even showed some range, knocking down a 3-pointer with 13:30 left in the first half to give the Golden Eagles a double-digit lead that they would never relinquish.
After a strong take and finish from Anderson, Carlino stole back-to-back Wisconsin Lutheran inbounds passes, laying the ball in for his first two points after the first, then setting up Anderson for a three-point play on the next. The series of quick scores gave Marquette a cozy 21-4 lead with 12:35 left in the first half.
From then on, the rout was on as the Golden Eagles cruised to a 43-15 halftime lead. Anderson led all scorers in the first half with 17 points, while Burton and Johnson chipped in seven and six respectively. Carlino, Derrick Wilson and redshirt freshman Duane Wilson combined for 10 steals, while Steve Taylor Jr. pulled down nine rebounds.
Despite the big lead, the team showed plenty of room for improvement, turning the ball over nine times and shooting just 37.8 percent from the field, making just one of 11 shots from beyond the arc.
“At halftime we talked about really sharing the ball offensively, and overall I think we did share the ball well,” Wojciechowski said.
Marquette turned its three-point fortunes around quickly in the second half, knocking down its first three attempts from downtown.
With just under 12 minutes to play, Anderson took a steal end-to-end to finish another sweet transition dunk, but came up limping after landing. He returned a few minutes later with no observable issues or changes in pace.
Burton redeemed himself from an earlier missed dunk that almost hit the Bradley Center roof, flying in with a one-handed tomahawk with just over nine minutes to play.
The Golden Eagles shot a scorching 77.1 percent to finish the game, connecting on three more three-pointers and absolutely dominating in transition and under the basket with 48 points off the fast break and 70 in the paint. Additionally, Marquette scored 47 points off a whopping 24 steals.
“I thought our defensive pressure was good,” Wojciechowski said. “I think we have the ability to pressure the ball and force turnovers, but we’re still very much a work in progress. We need to be a better defensive rebounding team.”
The talent discrepancy was on full display, but nevertheless a very impressive second half salvaged what could’ve been a frustrating start to the Wojciechowski era.