MILWAUKEE (AP)—After three high-scoring easy games, Marquette had to try a different approach.
The Golden Eagles (4-0), who averaged a Big East leading 100.3 points a game in their first three contests, struggled in the first half against Texas Southern before pulling away for an 85-68 victory Tuesday night.
“Tonight it was very spotty on both ends,” said Marquette coach Buzz Williams. “It is good that we had to gut through it. That grows them all up, including me.”
Williams was particularly frustrated that Texas Southern shot 64 percent in the second half and forced Marquette into 19 turnovers that led to 21 points.
“In the second half, 64 (percent) was awful,” he said. “We can’t have success letting teams score the way they did. We were not as consistent as we have been.”
Jerel McNeal scored 20 points to lead five Golden Eagles in double figures. Lazar Haywood added 18 points.
Haywood said he was hopeful the Golden Eagles got the bad game out of their system. Like Williams, he was frustrated that the Tigers were able to shoot such a high percentage in the second half.
“There is no excuse for that,” he said. “We can’t let that happen again or we won’t win at all. It is good to have that type of game now so we know the things we have to do better.”
Deandre Hall led Texas Southern with 19 points, while Ricky Boyles added 14 points and 11 rebounds, which has yet to win a game for new coach Tony Harvey.
Texas Southern got the closest it would get in the second half when Hall stole the ball and scored on a dunk with 18 minutes remaining to cut the score to 52-42. But Marquette responded with a 15-6 run over the next five minutes to grab a 57-38 lead with 13:05 remaining when James stole the ball and score on a lay in.
The Tigers could get no closer than 15 points for the remainder of the game.
Harvey was pleased with his team’s performance, but was disappointed with the loss.
“I wanted to win the game,” Harvey said. “It’s tough to win on the road. We had a lot of momentum going. We had them on their heels. For certain circumstances, they changed their game.”
Marquette was bidding to set a school record of three straight games with scoring at least 100 points. The last time the Golden Eagles scored 100 points for two straight games was during the 1954-55 season when they beat Bowling Green and Detroit. The Golden Eagles beat Chicago State 106-87 on Nov. 17 and Wisconsin-Milwaukee 100-80 on Nov. 22.
Marquette struggled in the first half, committing 13 turnovers and hitting just 12 of 29 shots. The Golden Eagles took control of the game late in the first half as McNeal hit back-to-back three pointers to give Marquette a 34-21 lead with 1:22 remaining.
James hit a 25-foot three-pointer at the first half buzzer to give Marquette a 38-25 halftime lead.