No. 22 Marquette 91, Mount St. Mary's 37
Marquette coach Buzz Williams had the luxury of being able to sub out his entire starting lineup 2:10 into Friday night's season opener against Mount St. Mary's.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, could barely field a starting lineup due to suspensions and injuries.
The difference was stark, as Darius Johnson-Odom led a balanced Marquette attack with 16 points and the 22nd-ranked Golden Eagles rolled past short-handed Mount St. Mary's 91-37.
''They only had six scholarship guys, so who we prepared to play was not exactly who we played,'' Williams said. ''That incriminates us even more, with 16 offensive rebounds (given up). But to force a team into 29 turnovers and to hold them to the field goal percentage that we did, all of those things were very positive.''
Jae Crowder and Chris Otule both added 14 points for Marquette, which led 49-18 at halftime and was never threatened after the game's opening minutes.
Six players scored in double figures for the Golden Eagles and Junior Cadougan tied a career-high with 10 assists.
Julian Norfleet led Mount St. Mary's with 12 points.
Both teams were without players whose suspensions were announced Friday.
Mount St. Mary's clearly felt it more as coach Robert Burke announced the indefinite suspension of senior guard Lamar Trice, the team's leading returning scorer (13.3) from last season, and sophomore forward Kristijan Krajina for an unspecified violation of team rules. Both would have started Friday.
Mount St. Mary's was also without 6-foot-7 junior forward Ja'Colby Wells, who was out with an ankle injury.
''Definitely a daunting task against a team as good as them, and a team with that type of matchup, the way they play, constant pressure in all areas of the game,'' Burke said. ''They have a lot of interchangeable parts on their team.''
Marquette also was down a player. The school said before the game that the NCAA has suspended freshman forward Juan Anderson for the first three games of the season for accepting a free ticket to a suite at a Milwaukee Brewers' playoff game in October.
Still, Marquette cruised after a sluggish start - and after Williams sent a message to his team by pulling his starters early in favor of sophomore transfer forward Jamil Wilson, freshmen guards Todd Mayo and Derrick Wilson and two occasionally used reserves from last season - forwards Jamail Jones and Davante Gardner.
The five reserves played well, using full-court pressure to help Marquette to an early 10-5 lead, before the five starters returned to the game at the 13:54 mark and took over. With the lineup of Crowder, Otule, Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue and Cadougan back on the court, Marquette went on a 23-4 run to take a 31-9 lead. Crowder had nine points during the spurt.
''We have five defensive principles, and the fifth is `Take up space,''' Williams said. ''Finish the possession with a rebound. And they didn't, so we switched guys.''
''He's got 10 guys who it looks like he can play,'' Burke said. ''I think he knew we had six guys, so `Let's wear `em down, let's wear `em down.'
''I thought our guys, when we were fresh, we had some really nice moments, some good execution. In the halfcourt, we defended reasonably well.''
The Mountaineers didn't help themselves with 11 turnovers in the first 10-plus minutes of the game, 18 in the first half and 29 in the game. Mount St. Mary's shot just 29.1 percent from the field (16 of 55), including 2 of 18 from 3-point range.
Marquette hit 56.3 percent (36 of 64).
Marquette started the second half on a 10-3 run, and the Mountaineers got no closer than 36 points after that.
''Coach likes to say that we're not playing the opponent, we're playing ourselves,'' Otule said. ''We know that we can come out here and beat these teams, but what we have to do is focus on what we do in practice, which is focus on stops, which is focus on rebounding.''
It was a strong start for Marquette, which is looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the seventh straight season. The Golden Eagles finished 22-11 and advanced to the round of 16 last season but lost first-round draft pick Jimmy Butler from that team.
Burke said in a release that the two suspended players ''each know what they need to do to meet the expectations of being a Mount St. Mary's basketball player. Once they have done this, they can return to competing in games. Until then, they will continue to practice with the team, but will not be allowed to play in games.''
He declined further comment after the game.
Anderson accepted the ticket ''from someone other than his parents/legal guardian, which is impermissible per NCAA rules,'' according a Marquette release. Marquette compliance staff determined the violation during an internal review and immediately self-reported it to the NCAA, the school said. The ruling was finalized Friday.
Mount St. Mary's dropped to 1-16 against Top 25 teams since moving to Division I. Marquette moved to 80-15 all-time in season openers and has won 11 straight.