Although it wasn’t as convincing as coach Buzz Williams would have liked, the Marquette men’s basketball won its season-opener 85-62 over the Centenary Gents.
“In some ways we did some really good things,” Williams said. “There are things to build on and definitely some things we need to begin to work on.”
In the first half, Centenary looked all but ready to challenge the Golden Eagles for the upset, holding a lead of 21-20 at the 8:07 mark.
Jimmy Butler took over, though, and Marquette was too much to handle in the second half.
“I’m going to go out there and play my hardest,” Butler said. “Everybody is telling me to stay more offensively aggressive and keep attacking the basket.”
Butler scored the first three baskets of the game and poured in a career-high 27 points in his first start as a Golden Eagle. Butler’s athleticism benefited him as he got to the basket with ease, while also pulling down 13 rebounds. It was his second career double-double.
Guards Maurice Acker and David Cubillan sparked a few mini-runs, which helped the Golden Eagles to an 11-point halftime lead at 40-29. Cubillan made his second-career start as a Golden Eagle, while Acker was left out of the starting five.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Acker said about being left out of the starting lineup. “Coach bases his decision on the starting lineup on who’s good statistically in practice and David Cubillan and Dwight Buycks have been doing real good in practice.”
Gents guard David Perez was a handful for the Marquette defense all night, dropping in a career-high 25 points. Other than Perez, Centenary struggled to get any offensive rhythm going, shooting 34 percent for the game.
Marquette forward Lazar Hayward picked up two quick fouls and was held in check most of the night, scoring just nine points. The question lingers if Hayward will be able to hold his own down low as the competition improves.
In his first ever regular season game as a Golden Eagle, Dwight Buycks was given a starting spot. He chipped in seven points, five rebounds, and four assists. Newcomers Jeronne Maymon and Darius Johnson-Odom also contributed throughout the night scoring nine and 10 points, respectively.
“I think Jeronne Maymon and Darius Johnson-Odom are our swing votes similar to what Jimmy Butler was to our team last year,” Williams said. “Those two guys have got to be able to help us.”
Marquette will be in action next Tuesday, Nov. 17 against Maryland Eastern Shore.