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Johnson scores 20 in rout of Grambling State

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Traci+Carter+led+the+Golden+Eagles+with+10+assists+against+Grambling+State+%28Photo+by+Nolan+Bollier%2Fnolan.bollier%40mu.edu%29.
Traci Carter led the Golden Eagles with 10 assists against Grambling State (Photo by Nolan Bollier/nolan.bollier@mu.edu).

Traci Carter led the Golden Eagles with 10 assists against Grambling State (Photo by Nolan Bollier/nolan.bollier@mu.edu).

Traci Carter led the Golden Eagles with 10 assists against Grambling State (Photo by Nolan Bollier/nolan.bollier@mu.edu).

Matt Unger

It was apparent from tipoff Marquette was playing the worst team in Division I basketball according to the KenPom rankings. The Golden Eagles blew out Grambling State 95-49 in front of a sparse Wednesday night crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Jajuan Johnson had his highest scoring performance of the season, leading the team with 20 points. He was much improved from three-point range, shooting a perfect 4-for-4. He shot 16 percent in the first six games.

“The last couple of games I’ve been shooting weak shots,” Johnson said. “This game I was shooting strong shots, getting my legs under me and I was jumping a little higher on my shots.”

Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said his performance was a testament to Johnson’s work on his shot in the summer.

“He shot shots that were wide open,” Wojciechowski said. “If he’s got his feet set and he’s open, especially from the corner, he hits that at a pretty good rate. Who he is, overall as an offensive player is an attacking player. You get a few layups, the basket looks bigger.”

It was Johnson’s first full game since his grandfather passed away last weekend. He played in limited action on Sunday against Jackson State.

“We had a close relationship,” Johnson said. “It was just good being back home and seeing my family.”

It was a good showing from the Golden Eagles collectively from long range, especially for the players who had the biggest issues in the first six games. Redshirt sophomore Duane Wilson went 3-for-4, and freshman Henry Ellenson went 2-for-5. Overall, the team shot 13-of-21 (62 percent) from long range.

Ellenson nearly recorded a fourth straight double-double, shooting 7-of-12 for 16 points and snatching eight rebounds. He was also a presence defensively, recording three blocks.

Redshirt junior Luke Fischer continued his strong play this season, totaling 14 points and six rebounds.

However, the Golden Eagles didn’t solve all their problems. The turnovers are still an issue, despite the Golden Eagles finding a team that gives the ball away even more than they do. The 15 turnovers is one less than the average in the first six games.

Marquette scored 14 points before Grambling State got on the board seven minutes in, ending a 0-for-10 run for the Tigers. Grambling State had six fouls, putting Marquette in the bonus, before the first timeout.

Although they couldn’t keep up that pace, the Golden Eagles continued to dominate, hold an eight point Tigers run with Matt Heldt on the floor last in the first half. It was the type of game where the team starts setting up walk-on players for points in the final minutes. Senior Michael Mache recorded his first point of the season, hitting one of two free throws. Freshman Cam Marotta also saw game action for the first time in his career.

Marquette will face another cupcake Saturday when it hosts Maine, ranked No. 297 in KenPom coming into last night’s game. The Black Bears are 2-4 after an 84-71 loss to Army last night.

“If Marquette’s playing, it’s an important game,” Wojciechowski said. “That’s what I want our guys to understand, that every time we step on the court that it’s not a matter of who you’re playing. It’s you’re playing, and you have to live up to a high standard.”

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