It had been since Nov. 29 since the Marquette Golden Eagles left an arena as the winner.
Marquette had two straight losses to San Diego State at the Honda Center in the championship of the Wooden Legacy Classic and a road loss to in-state rival Wisconsin. The Golden Eagles returned to the Bradley Center for the first time since before Thanksgiving and thumped the IUPUI Jaguars by an 86-50 tally.
The Golden Eagles got off to a rare fast start thanks to an 18-2 run in the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the game. Marquette had a 58.6 shooting percentage and five three-point field goals in the first half against the Jaguars' 2-3 zone. Juan Anderson jolted the strong first half with 11 points including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
"I want to be one of those guys who can help my team in whatever they need," Anderson said. "That's pretty much my goal is to do the little things and be the ultimate glue-guy. I want people to look at me and say 'He's a great teammate.'"
Anderson said he believes today's victory and the beginning of winter break will be the launching point for the rest of the season as conference play approaches.
"I think it's the start of something big," Anderson said of Saturday's victory. "I think these next few weeks are pretty big for us, in terms of things we need to work on and tighten up for conference play."
Marquette's head coach, Buzz Williams, said he thinks Anderson's production comes from his hard work and dedication.
"When God made him, I think he put super juice in his heart," Williams said. "I think he's a really good kid who understands the value of work. He understands how hard you have to work to have a chance. True confidence can only come from your work and I think he's working."
In a season that has been defined by offensive struggles and poor perimeter shooting, the Golden Eagles seemed to have everything fall for them on Saturday. Marquette picked up where they left off in the first half, making 71 percent of their shots and finishing the day with a shooting percentage just under 65 percent, including 66.7 percent from the three-point line.
"I think you make shots when you deserve to make shots and the only way that you earn the right to make shots is when you're playing for your teammate and you're playing for your team," Williams said.
Marquette had seven players score at least six points and five players in double figures. Davante Gardner led the way with 20 points and his eighth double-double. Jamil Wilson chimed in with 16 and freshmen Jajuan Johnson and Deonte Burton each scored 10 points.
Playing only two games in the two weeks following the Wooden Legacy appeared to be beneficial for Marquette, as the offensive fluidity and ball movement was extremely efficient. Marquette had 28 assists on 37 baskets, with Jamil Wilson leading the way with six dimes and Derrick Wilson and Anderson each with five. The Golden Eagles also pounded the Jaguars on the glass, out-rebounding IUPUI by a 46-23 margin.
"I'm thankful for whatever that assist-to-basket percentage is," Williams said. "I don't think the ball ever got stuck. I think we were making next play for the next person, for the next pass, for the next possession and those are good things."
Marquette's scoring came from all different facets of the game: 44 points were scored in the paint, 20 in transition, 18 from beyond the arc and six from the free-throw line.
"We took the right percentage of field goal attempts from three," Williams said. "We made 37 baskets and only attempted nine threes."
Although Marquette played with more fluidity on offense, it did result in some sloppy play. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 16 times Saturday, with each Marquette player except Dylan Flood registering at least one turnover.
Marquette's next game over its academic hiatus will be against Ball State on Tuesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Williams said he expects his team to develop vastly over the break.
"There has been marked improvement during the month they're out of school," Williams said. "I think school is stressful if you're trying to do right and trying to earn a diploma. This is the longest period of time our kids don't have to go to school. We all need to improve."
All quotes were obtained by Matt Barbato at the postgame press conference.
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