No. 11 Marquette 93, N. Colorado 72

Freshman Todd Mayo found out he was replacing suspended star

Darius Johnson-Odom 10 minutes before Marquette’s 93-72 victory

over Northern Colorado on Saturday.

That was probably a good thing.

”I couldn’t tell you what was going through my head, really,”

said Mayo, who scored a career-high 22 points for the 11th-ranked

Golden Eagles. ”I just knew it was time to play.

”I think it was kind of good that he told me 10 minutes before

the game because I would have gotten no sleep last night if he

would have told me yesterday.”

Jae Crowder added 19 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette, which

moved to 10-0 for the first time in a decade and seventh time in

school history. Vander Blue had 18 points.

Tate Unruh had a career-high 25 points for Northern Colorado

(3-7), the defending Big Sky Conference regular-season and

tournament champions. Unruh made five 3-pointers.

”I am not sure he could have responded any better than he

did,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said of Mayo. ”Our guys were

a lot better today after a week off, playing without our leading

scorer and a guy who can probably create his shot as well as

anybody in the country.”

Johnson-Odom, who is averaging 18.8 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2

points per game, was suspended for an unspecified violation of team

rules. The school announced the penalty before the game, and

Williams said the senior guard will start Monday at LSU.

Johnson-Odom was in uniform, but his replacement did just fine.

The brother of Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo scored 14 points,

equaling his previous career high, in the first half, including

four 3-pointers and eight straight points early in the game.

”He stepped up to the plate when his name was called, like the

team expects him to,” Crowder said. ”He didn’t know it was going

to go down like that. He’s a great scorer on the offensive end, a

great defensive player as well. It was a very impressive start for

him.”

Williams expected nothing less.

”I think Todd’s really good, but I’ve always thought Todd was

really good,” Williams said. ”Todd’s really good, and how you can

even imagine that he’s not is comical to me. You think about the

impact that he’s had for us through 10 games on both ends of the

floor, he has created a niche as a freshman that I don’t know that

I have seen.

”We count on him. We really count on him on both ends.”

Marquette led 47-30 at halftime and expanded its advantage to

53-32 before Northern Colorado put together a 15-3 run to pull

within nine on Unruh’s putback with 13:11 left.

But the Bears couldn’t get any closer, even as fatigue set in

for Mayo.

”When there was probably 10 minutes on the clock in the second

half, I felt I was going to throw up,” Mayo said. ”I have never

been that tired in my life, but it was good for me.”

Davante Gardner had 14 points for Marquette. The sophomore

forward made his second collegiate start after replacing Chris

Otule, who is out with a knee injury.

”You are seeing who we can count on before the Big East play

comes,” Crowder said. ”Seeing who can step up at what times is

big for us.”

Tim Huskisson, a reserve, finished with a career-high 17 points

for Northern Colorado.

Sophomore Jamil Wilson had a career-high 11 points for Marquette

(10-0), which outrebounded the Bears 43-26.

”We don’t play for the rankings, we don’t for anything other

than to improve,” Williams said. ”And when you think about the

last two weeks and all the things that we’ve been through, it’s not

fairy tale. You have to continue to improve despite the changes.

That’s really hard to do when you are a young team.”

Northern Colorado got off to a rough start when Mike Proctor, a

6-foot-8 senior forward averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per

game, injured his right ankle on the opening jump ball. He was

helped to the locker room and did not return.

”He just came down on his foot on the jump ball,” Bears coach

B.J. Hill said. ”Pretty typical for the kind of luck we’ve been

having this year to be honest with you. We’ve had just a bunch of

little, nagging injuries just like that, game in and game out.

”It’s frustrating, but somebody has to step up in his place for

us to be successful in an environment like this. We just couldn’t

get that done.”

Johnson-Odom, who had not missed a game in his 44-game career,

is the second Marquette starter to be suspended recently for a

violation of team rules. Starting point guard Junior Cadougan

didn’t play in Marquette’s 61-54 victory over Wisconsin on Dec.

3.