MILWAUKEE (AP) Jajuan Johnson had a career-high 20 points, and Steve Wojciechowski won his first game as a head coach when Marquette beat Tennessee-Martin 79-63 on Friday night.
Juan Anderson also reached a career high with 16 points for the undersized Golden Eagles, who don’t have an eligible player on the roster taller than 6-foot-7 Steve Taylor, Jr.
Marquette must counter with in-your-face defense and up-tempo basketball, and that’s exactly how they opened up a double-digit lead on the Skyhawks early in the second half.
The 6-6 Anderson opened the half with five straight points, including a 3 for a 43-30 lead with 18:44 left. It got Wojciechowski fired up after Tennessee-Martin called timeout, with Marquette’s rookie coach yelling ”Let’s go!” as his players returned to the bench.
Deville Smith scored 12 to lead the Skyhawks, who lost in coach Heath Schroyer’s debut.
Twymond Howard and Alex Anderson each added 11 for Tennessee Martin, which couldn’t recover after Marquette went on an 18-3 run midway through the first half to take a 31-19 lead with 5:15 left.
The Skyhawks committed six of their 10 first-half turnovers in the last 8 minutes of the half. The Ohio Valley Conference school went just 15 of 26 from the line for the night.
This wasn’t the debut Schroyer had envisioned at UT Martin following a three-year stint as an assistant at Nevada-Las Vegas.
Wojciechowski had a much more memorable start.
The former lead assistant for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Wojciechowski was also known for his fiery, on-court demeanor as a player for the Blue Devils. That attitude has carried over into his first gig as head coach.
Wojciechowski could often be found striking a defensive pose on the sideline while wearing his dark suit and gold tie, hunched over at the hip with arms extended in front of him while imploring his players to guard. He pumped his arms after big buckets as if he were still a player.
UT Martin: Myles Taylor grabbed 11 rebounds before fouling out with 7:42 left in the game. The Skyhawks outrebounded Marquette 34-25 but shot just 4 of 13 from the 3-point territory.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles picked up momentum midway through the first half when UT Martin started getting sloppy.
Backcourt pressure from Duane Wilson forced a turnover by Smith, and Johnson converted a loose ball into a layup and 17-16 lead that Marquette would not relinquish.
Johnson later added a three-point play, and two straight layups by Anderson gave the Golden Eagles a 10-point lead with 6:28 left in the first half.
UT Martin plays at Arkansas State on Monday.
Marquette plays at No. 20 Ohio State on Tuesday.