There’s nothing like home sweet home for the Marquette Golden Eagles.
After a frustrating 2-3 road trip, Marquette handily defeated IUPUI 86-50 Saturday, its first home game since Nov. 21.
Davante Gardner led the Golden Eagles with his double-double outing of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jamil Wilson tallied 16 points while grabbing seven boards and dishing six assists, and Juan Anderson tied his career high of 11 points. Marquette had five double-digit scorers in all. Ian Chiles scored 21 for the Jaguars, whose three-game winning streak was snapped.
After dropping consecutive games to San Diego State and Wisconsin, both legitimate NCAA Tournament threats this season, Marquette bounced back on both ends of the floor in convincing fashion. The Golden Eagles shot well above their season average of 42 percent from the field, putting together a 64.9 percent effort, and limited IUPUI to 29.5 percent shooting.
“I thought our energy, our body language, our attitudes … those are the things you have to have to win,” coach Buzz Williams said. “When those things are inconsistent, which they have been, it doesn’t mean that your talent’s bad, it means that you’re immature. We have to continue to mature and continue to improve. I think our work over the last few days, it resonated to today.”
Marquette’s man-to-man and zone defenses stifled the Jaguars all afternoon. IUPUI was outdone on the glass, as Marquette held a 46-23 rebounding margin and a 44-18 advantage in the paint.
“We like to play together and, as everybody knows, we like to get paint touches,” Anderson said. “So when we get paint touches and take our types of shots, they go in most of the time.”
The game became out of hand quickly. The Golden Eagles leaped out to an 18-2 lead, paced by three Anderson 3-pointers, and they didn’t look back.
After back-to-back baskets by Chiles late in the first half to make the score 31-16, Marquette made four unanswered field goals over the next minute and a half to widen the lead to 23.
“I think that’s big,” Anderson said of the quick start. “It sets the tone for the rest of the game. It allows us confidence, it allows us to get out in transition, things of that nature. I think it’s big for us so that we don’t have any lapses.”
Coming out of a 43-18 halftime lead, Marquette used a 10-2 run to add to its comfort level. The Golden Eagles went into the under-12 timeout ahead 61-27, and their lead was as much as 45 with just over two minutes remaining.
Marquette enjoyed a 6-for-9 effort behind the 3-point line, but only took one long ball in the second half. Although the Golden Eagles were in a groove from deep, Williams praised his team for not falling in love with risky, low-percentage shots.
“I’m not saying we can’t shoot, I’m not saying we can shoot. I’m saying we have to earn the right to make a shot,” Williams said. “If you’re mentality is to shoot a bunch of jumpers on the perimeter, that doesn’t work.”
Ball movement had been a nagging issue for Marquette in its recent losses. In the past two games, the Golden Eagles mustered 12 assists combined. The team handed out 28 dimes Saturday, compared to IUPUI’s seven.
The Golden Eagles host Ball State Tuesday night before facing New Mexico in Las Vegas next Saturday.