Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams may have been trying out a new style, but for his team it was the same old story from beyond the three-point line.
Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler led a balanced attack as the Marquette Golden Eagles took down the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 82-59 at the Bradley Center on Tuesday night.
With Williams donning a baby blue sportcoat on the sidelines, honoring the late Al McGuire, the Golden Eagles (12-8, 3-5) jumped out to an early 18-point lead that included a 19-2 run, led by three three-pointers from Maurice Acker and seven more from Jimmy Butler, who finished the game with 16 points.
Marquette connected on eight of their 14 three-point attempts while holding the Scarlet Knights to just eight total field goals in the first half. The Golden Eagles shot over 51 percent before intermission, rushing out to a 23-point halftime lead and never looking back. With their 9-for-17 performance from beyond the arc, Marquette added to their Division I-best 43.3 three-point field goal percentage.
Led by Butler and Johnson-Odom's 16 points, Marquette had five players score in double figures. Acker added 14 of his own, including 12 in the first half, while reserve Joe Fulce poured in 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Lazar Hayward shook off a quiet first half and finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, becoming just the third player in school history to record 1,600 points and 800 rebounds.
"You have to be an elite level player when you arrive on campus and, if not, by the second semester you are on campus and you have to have the ability to endure every practice and every game, home or on the road," head coach Buzz Williams said of Hayward. "Your body has to be durable enough to be able to compete long stretches of minutes early in your career, throughout your career. You have to be a really good player to score that many points and you have to be really tough to get that many rebounds."
Johnson-Odom put together another great all-around game, connecting on two of his four three-point attempts while also shooting 50 percent from the field. He once again flashed an array of moves on the offensive end, using a deadly pump-fake to draw defenders up in the air and finishing with strength, as well as finesse, on several reverse lay-ups.
Marquette won the hustle battle, finishing with a 20-12 edge in second-chance points, including 12-0 in the first half. Despite a size disadvantage, Hayward corralled six offensive rebounds while Butler hauled in four of his own.
"We are always going to be undersized but I think it will be fun. We do it everyday and in every game [being undersized]," Butler said. "It's just another mismatch down there in the post I guess you could say."
After two straight Big East losses on the road to DePaul and Syracuse, the conference's worst team was the perfect match-up for a team looking to regain some of its confidence.
Rutgers (9-11, 0-8) shot under 42 percent for the game, but also committed 19 turnovers, many unforced, that led to 20 Marquette points. Mike Rosario led the way with 16 points and Dane Miller added 14 points to go with six rebounds. With the loss, the Scarlet Knights remain the only team in the Big East without a conference win.
Marquette travels to Hartford, Conn. on Saturday to face No. 19 Connecticut. Tipoff at the XL Center is set for 11 am CT.
Marquette takes down Rutgers, 82-59
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