Buzz Williams was happy with winning his coaching debut at Marquette, but he also knows there’s room for improvement.
His 16th-ranked Golden Eagles look to make progress Monday when they host Chicago State at the Bradley Center.
Marquette (1-0) looked sluggish in the first half before pulling away for a 95-64 victory over Houston Baptist on Friday. Wesley Matthews had career highs of 27 points and eight assists for the Golden Eagles, and also keyed a 14-0 spurt to start the second half and break open a close game.
“We have to string together consecutive perfect possessions,” Williams said about what it will take for his team to be successful. “I thought that defensively in the initial part of the second half, we strung together some really good defensive possessions.
“I thought we were pretty good. We’re not trying to outscore the opponent, we’re trying to be perfect on both sides of the ball.”
Matthews also had five of Marquette’s 13 steals, earning praise from his coach for his defensive effort.
“Because of his versatility, it has a positive impact on our team on both ends of the floor because of how hard he competes on every single possession,” Williams noted. “How many times did he dive on the floor? He was on the floor all night. He’s guarding everybody. He played the two, three, four and five for us tonight. That’s absolutely incredible.”
Jerel McNeal added 20 points while Lazar Hayward had 19 and 12 rebounds for Marquette, which scored 36 points off 25 turnovers by Houston Baptist and shot 60 percent in the second half.
Chicago State (1-0) started its season with a 112-83 rout of NAIA school Saint Xavier. David Holston hit nine 3-pointers, finished with 32 points and became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,533 points for the Cougars, who made 13 shots from beyond the arc overall.
Sophomore forward Carl Montgomery added 23 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for Chicago State, making all eight of his shots from the field and all seven from the foul line.
Holston, who was sixth among Division I players last season with 130 3-pointers and 11th in scoring at 23.1 points per game, also had seven assists and five steals.
The Cougars have lost their last 11 games against ranked opponents - all on the road - since the start of the 1997-98 season, losing each game by at least 18 points and giving up an average of 91.0 points.
Marquette has won all five meetings between the teams, most recently a 102-49 rout on Nov. 18, 2001.