MILWAUKEE — Rarely if ever does Buzz Williams sit down during a game, but even he felt comfortable enough to enjoy the final minutes of Tuesday night’s rout from a chair.
Facing a team that has now lost 30 games in a row, Marquette did exactly what it was supposed to do. It’s hard to take anything more than that from the Golden Eagles’, 114-71, stomping of Grambling State at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“I sat down there toward the end of the night, which happens like two minutes per year,” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Man, I love sitting down. This is great.’ The whole world just looks different. I told (assistant coach) Chew ‘As soon as they fire me, I’m going to be the best assistant ever. I just love sitting here.'”
Marquette’s 114 points were the second-most scored in a single game in school history, falling four points short of the school record of 118 set back in 1969 against UW-Milwaukee.
And while Grambling has been one of the worst Division I teams in college basketball for years, Marquette is the first team to score over 100 points on the Tigers since Texas A&M went for 101 in 2006.
“You have to play every team as if they are a BCS national championship team,” Marquette forward Steve Taylor Jr. said. “You can’t just look at Grambling State and say ‘It’s just Grambling State.’ You have to play every game like it is your last.”
The fact his team didn’t overlook an inferior opponent and did what it was supposed to do had Williams pleased. Marquette could have easily played sloppy basketball and still have walked away with a big win.
Facing yet another team from the SWAC, Marquette cut down on its self-inflicted wounds and turned the ball over just seven times. While Southern is a league favorite and Grambling a bottom feeder, the Golden Eagles still found a way to improve.
“I thought our concentration level was as good as it has been in a long time in November for any team that we’ve had,” Williams said. “I thought our assisted baskets were as good as its been in a long time. I thought we did a much better job tonight, and I understand there were many more possessions, but our turnover rate was way better. That’s what we need.
“I think we have improved since we played Friday night, and I was pleased. But I feel much better about our team tonight after two games than I did after the first game.”
Part of that may have to do with how much more relaxed Marquette’s young players looked in the second game of the season. Freshmen Deonte Burton (14 points, six rebounds) and JaJuan Johnson (12 points) scored in double figures, while fellow freshman John Dawson dished out six assists.
Even Taylor, a sophomore making his second consecutive start, was much more poised and aggressive, scoring 16 points with 11 rebounds.
“There’s only so many words you can say if you’ve never put on a uniform, if you’ve never played with Big East officials,” Williams said. “You have to do it. Same with me, you know what I mean? Fired up to be the head coach, well you still have to be the head coach.”
Now is Marquette ready to face a top-10 opponent Saturday when Ohio State comes to town? That remains to be seen, as the jump in talent from Grambling to the Buckeyes is about as big as it gets.
“Not to be disrespectful at all to Grambling, but Ohio State is good enough to win a National Championship,” Williams said. “Their perimeter collectively may be as good as anyone in the country.
“I think tonight our guys will go to bed feeling good about what they’ve done, but they also might wake up Sunday morning and go ‘Oh, that’s what high-major basketball is’. That will be fun to see.”