MILWAUKEE– All eleven Golden Eagles saw the floor as MU (1-0) handled Centenary (0-1), 85-62, in front of crowd of 14,093 Friday night at the Bradley Center.
From the very beginning, it was apparent that it was going to be Jimmy Butler's night. The junior forward came out on fire scoring 12 of the Golden Eagles' first 18 points en route to a game- and career- high 27 points. Butler also proved to be tenacious on the boards, pulling down 13 rebounds in 32 minutes of action.
"Because of his intellect he's able to do multiple things and that's extremely valuable when he's attacking the glass, like he did to start the game," said Head Coach Buzz Williams. "I think that that breeds confidence to him, because that is what he does best."
Despite Butler's impressive first-half effort, Centenary stuck close to the Golden Eagles and even held a brief one point lead midway through the opening twenty minutes. The Gents frustrated MU at times with an aggressive 3-2 zone and kept the Golden Eagles' transition game in check for the most part. Thanks to David Perez's 18 points, the Gentlemen were able to stay within eleven of MU at intermission, 40-29, despite Marquette closing the half on a 14-5 run.
As the second half began, the Golden Eagles settled down and began to get things going in transition. MU sped up the pace of the game and progressively extended its 11 point half time lead to 26, their largest of the game, with 5:44 to go in the second half. The Golden Eagles were much more successful attacking the Gents zone thanks in part to some dynamic backcourt contributions. Darius Johnson-Odom provided all 10 of his points in the second frame while Maurice Acker and David Cubillan combined for 10 assists. Acker also finished in double figures with 11 points.
"I thought that when we executed what we do best, was when we played our best and when we tried to do something we haven't prepared for, we didn't do what we were supposed to do," Williams noted. "We looked pretty average at best (tonight)".
One negative on the night for Marquette though was foul trouble. MU was pegged for 12 personal fouls in the first half and the second half started out much the same. By the 14 minute mark in the second half, Lazar Hayward found himself on the bench after committing his fourth. Hayward did not return to the game, and for the evening was not much of a factor finishing with nine points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes of action. The Golden Eagles did settle down a bit as the half progressed, but still finished with 23 fouls.
Despite having an unclear status leading up to game time, Johnson-Odom did not seem to be hampered by his prior foot injury suffered last week against MSOE. His two three-pointers provided a lift for the Golden Eagles who shot a paltry 19 percent from downtown as a team.
"I though DJO came to life once he hit his first shot, but I thought he was somewhat removed from what was going on up until that point," said Williams. "I don't want to prejudge DJO but we need him. We don't necessarily need him today, but we need him to play today and improve today."
In his first collegiate game, Jeronne Maymon made some noteworthy contributions scoring nine points and adding five rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
The Gents were led by Perez who finished with 25 points and three assists in 34 minutes.
Marquette returns to action Tuesday night against Maryland Eastern Shore at 7 pm at the Bradley Center.
Butler dazzles as MU handles Centenary
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