MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kam Jones scored 20 points, and No. 5 Marquette beat Northern Illinois 92-70 on Monday night in the season opener for both schools.
Marquette entered with its highest preseason ranking since 1977, when it was coming off a national championship and started out at No. 3. The Golden Eagles return four starters from a team that won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season.
During a pregame ceremony, Marquette unveiled a banner saluting those Big East titles from last season. The banner was just to the left of Doc Rivers’ retired No. 31 jersey.
Marquette then immediately went to work in trying to live up to its considerable expectations.
Tyler Kolek had 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists for Marquette, which shot 52.2% from the floor. Oso Ighodaro had 13 points and seven assists, and Chase Ross added a career-high 12 points.
David Coit scored 14 points and DePaul transfer Philmon Gebrewhit had 13 for Northern Illinois. Yanic Konan Niederhauser had nine points and 11 rebounds.
Jones went 3 of 3 on 3-pointers in the first four minutes as the Golden Eagles quickly took control. Kolek, last season’s Big East Player of the Year, scored eight points during a 21-8 spurt that extended Marquette’s lead to 42-22.
After trailing by 25 with just under 16 minutes left, Northern Illinois cut Marquette’s lead to 65-51 on Zion Russell’s three-point play with 12:55 remaining. Marquette then scored the next eight points.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies deserve some credit for making a run early in the second half after falling way behind, but they didn’t shoot well enough to have a chance at pulling the upset. The Huskies shot 37.1% from the floor and were just 7 of 26 from 3-point range. Northern Illinois made 236 3-pointers last season, the second-highest total in school history.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles had amazing luck with health last season and were able to use the same starting lineup for all 36 games. The only change in the starting lineup this year is 2022-23 Big East Sixth Man of the Year David Joplin taking over for Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who’s now with the Dallas Mavericks. Joplin scored seven points in 21 minutes.
Northern Illinois: Hosts Appalachian State on Saturday.
Marquette: Hosts Rider on Friday.