|Marquette's Todd Mayo (4) shoots a 3-pointer over Northern Colorado's Elliott Lloyd (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)|
Northern Colorado loses 93-72 at No. 11 Marquette
MILWAUKEE—Talk about a rough start.
Mike Proctor was injured on the opening tip and Northern Colorado went on to a 93-72 loss at No. 11 Marquette on Saturday. The 6-foot-8 senior forward, who was averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, appeared hurt his right ankle 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."
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.
"He can really shoot it," Hill said. "Tate's a great kid. He's a great offensive player. He's kind of a microcosm of what our team is right now. We've got a bunch of really good offensive guys but we have to figure it out on the other end, defensively and rebounding.
"We play 13 freshmen and sophomores on our team and it looks like it. Our defense is designed around keeping people out of the paint and today we didn't do it."
Marquette got a big game from freshman Todd Mayo, who replaced suspended star Darius Johnson-Odom in the starting lineup and scored 22 points. Jae Crowder added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Vander Blue had 18 points.
Marquette (10-0) moved to 10-0 for the first time in a decade and seventh time in school history.
Mayo found out he was replacing Johnson-Odom 10 minutes before the game.
"I couldn't tell you what was going through my head, really," he said. "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."
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said he expected a strong start from Mayo.
"I am not sure he could have responded any better than he did," he said. "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.
Said Hill: "When Mayo hit his first four, I wasn't happy but that's what we wanted him to do."
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.
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.
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.