Mayo helps Marquette cruise past Northern ColoradoSaturday, Dec 17, 2011
That was probably a good thing.
“I couldn’t tell you what was going through my head, really,” said Mayo, who scored a career-high 22 points for the 11th-ranked Golden Eagles. “I just knew it was time to play.
“I think it was kind of good that he told me 10 minutes before the game because I would have gotten no sleep last night if he would have told me yesterday.”
Jae Crowder added 19 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette, which moved to 10-0 for the first time in a decade and seventh time in school history. Vander Blue had 18 points.
Tate Unruh had a career-high 25 points for Northern Colorado (3-7), the defending Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament champions. Unruh made five 3-pointers.
“I am not sure he could have responded any better than he did,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said of Mayo. “Our guys were a lot better today after a week off, playing without our leading scorer and a guy who can probably create his shot as well as anybody in the country.”
Johnson-Odom, who is averaging 18.8 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 points per game, was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. The school announced the penalty before the game, and Williams said the senior guard will start Monday at LSU.
Johnson-Odom was in uniform, but his replacement did just fine. The brother of Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo scored 14 points, equaling his previous career high, in the first half, including four 3-pointers and eight straight points early in the game.
“He stepped up to the plate when his name was called, like the team expects him to,” Crowder said. “He didn’t know it was going to go down like that. He’s a great scorer on the offensive end, a great defensive player as well. It was a very impressive start for him.”
Williams expected nothing less.
“I think Todd’s really good, but I’ve always thought Todd was really good,” Williams said. “Todd’s really good, and how you can even imagine that he’s not is comical to me. You think about the impact that he’s had for us through 10 games on both ends of the floor, he has created a niche as a freshman that I don’t know that I have seen.
“We count on him. We really count on him on both ends.”
Marquette led 47-30 at halftime and expanded its advantage to 53-32 before Northern Colorado put together a 15-3 run to pull within nine on Unruh’s putback with 13:11 left.
But the Bears couldn’t get any closer, even as fatigue set in for Mayo.
“When there was probably 10 minutes on the clock in the second half, I felt I was going to throw up,” Mayo said. “I have never been that tired in my life, but it was good for me.”
Davante Gardner had 14 points for Marquette. The sophomore forward made his second collegiate start after replacing Chris Otule, who is out with a knee injury.
“You are seeing who we can count on before the Big East play comes,” Crowder said. “Seeing who can step up at what times is big for us.”
Tim Huskisson, a reserve, finished with a career-high 17 points for Northern Colorado.
Sophomore Jamil Wilson had a career-high 11 points for Marquette (10-0), which outrebounded the Bears 43-26.
“We don’t play for the rankings, we don’t for anything other than to improve,” Williams said. “And when you think about the last two weeks and all the things that we’ve been through, it’s not fairy tale. You have to continue to improve despite the changes. That’s really hard to do when you are a young team.”
Northern Colorado got off to a rough start when Mike Proctor, a 6-foot-8 senior forward averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, injured his right ankle on the opening jump ball. He was helped to the locker room and did not return.
“He just came down on his foot on the jump ball,” Bears coach B.J. Hill said. “Pretty typical for the kind of luck we’ve been having this year to be honest with you. We’ve had just a bunch of little, nagging injuries just like that, game in and game out.
“It’s frustrating, but somebody has to step up in his place for us to be successful in an environment like this. We just couldn’t get that done.”
Johnson-Odom, who had not missed a game in his 44-game career, is the second Marquette starter to be suspended recently for a violation of team rules. Starting point guard Junior Cadougan didn’t play in Marquette’s 61-54 victory over Wisconsin on Dec. 3.