MILWAUKEE (AP)—Nevermind any city bragging rights. Jerel McNeal and No. 13 Marquette were just happy to get an easy win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
McNeal scored 16 points and backcourt mate Dominic James had 22, powering the Golden Eagles to a 100-65 rout of their cross-town rival Friday night in their first meeting in nearly a decade.
“The biggest thing to us was that this was the next game on our schedule,” McNeal said. “We wanted to come out and show the improvement we have made since we came back from the Maui Invitational.”
Lazar Hayward added 19 points and David Cubillan 12 for the Golden Eagles (5-1), who looked sharp even though they had been idle since losing to Duke on Nov. 21 in the Maui title game.
Marquette has now beaten the Panthers in all 35 meetings dating to 1917.
The two teams had not played each other since Dec. 8, 1998, when the Golden Eagles won 77-56 and UW-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter was an assistant under then-Marquette coach Mike Deane.
“Rivalries are formed by the players on the floor and over a period of time with close games,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said. “You can’t create anything just because you talk about it and want it to happen.”
Wisconsin-Milwaukee had tried for several years to renew the series before Marquette relented this season. The Panthers play their home games across the street from Marquette at U.S. Cellular Arena, making for a short road trip.
“The intent has been for the right intentions,” Jeter said of scheduling the game. “Nothing other than we’re both right here, we both play right next door to each other and let’s just play. That’s all it’s ever been about.”
James and McNeal scored the first two baskets of the second half to boost Marquette’s lead to 54-33. Torre Johnson’s basket briefly cut the advantage to 19 points, but that was as close as the Panthers would get the rest of the contest.
Ricky Franklin scored 14 points and Deion James 10 for the Panthers (3-4), who played a ranked team for the first time this season. They’ve lost three straight and four of five.
“We just have to keep battling,” Jeter said. “I told my guys, ‘Keep your heads up.’ We were beaten very good tonight and now we have to get back to the drawing board.”
Wisconsin-Milwaukee hung close early and managed to tie it at 13 with 12:35 left in the first half. But the Golden Eagles went into halftime on a 15-3 run to lead 50-33.
Marquette won the game in the first half with superior shooting. The Golden Eagles made 18-of-34 from the field (52.9 percent) and were devastating from long range, hitting 8-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Crean made no apologies about keeping several of his starters in the game late, even though it was well in hand.
“We’re in here to get better,” he said. “We did a lot of different things with combinations of players. We can’t work as hard as we work in practice and then take a segment of the game and say, ‘We’re not going to work on what we work on.’