Marquette Wins Season Opener Against Houston Baptist 95-64

Nov. 14, 2008

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MILWAUKEE (AP)--Wesley Matthews scored a career-high 27 points and No. 16 Marquette rolled past Houston Baptist 95-64 Friday night in Buzz Williams' debut as the Golden Eagles' head coach.

Jerel McNeal had 20 points and Lazar Hayward added 19 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette. The Golden Eagles never trailed and broke open the game with a 14-0 spurt to start the second half.

Matthews added a career-high eight assists and five steals.

Williams took over in April, shortly after Tom Crean became the head coach at Indiana. Williams was an assistant under Crean last season and served as head coach at the University of New Orleans in 2006-07.

Williams inherited an experienced team returning its top four scorers from a year ago, including three senior guards--McNeal, Matthews and Dominic James-- who have each scored more than 1,000 points at Marquette. The Golden Eagles finished 25-10 in 2007-08 and lost to Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Gordon Watt led Houston Baptist with 17 points and Baron Sauls added 15.

Matthews and McNeal combined for nine points at the start of the second half, turning a 42-34 lead into a 56-34 cushion. Houston Baptist lost the ball five times and missed all four of its shots during the spurt.

Matthews, whose previous career high was 22 points, made 7 of 11 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, and 11 of 12 free throws.

Marquette forced 25 turnovers and tallied 13 steals. James tied a career high with six steals. Jimmy Butler, a junior college transfer, had 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

Demetrus Judge had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Houston Baptist, which is in the midst of the transition from NAIA Division I to playing a full NCAA Division I schedule this season.

Houston Baptist, which went 13-15 last season, joined the Great West Conference in July. The Huskies also competed at the NCAA Division I level from 1973-89.

Marquette, a guard-oriented team already lacking in size, played without two freshmen big men: 6-foot-10 center Chris Otule will miss several weeks after injuring his left foot in practice last week and 6-foot-7 forward Joseph Fulce is out with a knee injury.




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