Sun. Final: Marquette 84, Presbyterian 45
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Marquette had little trouble in its last tuneup game before starting Big East play this week.
Lazar Hayward scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Wesley Matthews added 21 points as Marquette cruised to an 84-45 victory over Presbyterian on Sunday.
"From a numbers perspective it could arguably be our best game," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.
Marquette (11-2) opens Big East play Thursday against Villanova.
"We weren't looking past Presbyterian to Villanova," Matthews said. "We've still got a lot to work on. We've got to get better. It's a marathon."
Williams said he was worried his team would struggle after taking a Christmas break, but Marquette opened the game with an 18-4 run, and closed the first half with a 13-3 streak to lead 40-18 at halftime.
"Typically you see a lot of rust in the first game after Christmas," he said. "I didn't see a lot of rust. I thought we looked pretty good."
The Marquette coach said his team has improved since the beginning of the season.
"I want to be peaking, beginning the rise on Jan. 1, and continuing the rise hopefully to about Valentine's Day," Williams said, moving his hand higher into the air. "When we get to Valentine's Day, I hope we're rolling pretty good."
The Golden Eagles never were threatened in the second half in posting their largest margin of victory this season.
"That's the only team that's taken it to us all year long," Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert said. "These guys, they've got the quickest guards ... and (Hayward) can get out there and shoot the three.
"They got inside with (Dwight) Burke, who can do some nice things in the post," he said. "They're a tough team to guard, they've got a lot of bullets."
The game was an opportunity for Williams to get two key big men on the court. Chris Otule, a 6-foot-10 freshman, and Joseph Fulce, a 6-7 forward, both missed the first 10 games with injuries, and were playing only their second games.
Otule scored four points and had five rebounds, four of them offensive boards, in 14 minutes. Fulce scored two points and had two rebounds in 12 minutes.
"I hope they can continue to get better," Williams said. "If Chris can play five to six minutes and Joe can play five to six minutes (in Big East games), that's manna from heaven."
Al'Lonzo Coleman scored 13 points and Josh Johnson added 11 points for the Blue Hose (5-8).
Jerel McNeal scored nine points and Dominic James and Jimmy Butler had eight points apiece for the Golden Eagles. Backup point guard Maurice Acker had 10 assists.
The bigger Marquette team dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Blue Hose, 44-20, and scoring 19 second-chance points to none for Presbyterian.
The Blue Hose have their first Big South game Saturday against Radford.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)