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Marquette easily defeats Centenary, 85-62

Nov 14, 2009 - 4:23 AM MILWAUKEE(AP) -- Jimmy Butler scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in his first start at Marquette, leading the Golden Eagles to an 85-62 victory over Centenary on Friday night.

Marquette (1-0), playing its first regular-season game in five years without Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews and Dominic James on the team, scored the first seven points of the second half to open a 47-29 lead on Lazar Hayward's layin with 16:28 left. The Golden Eagles held a double-digit lead the rest of the game.

David Perez led Centenary (0-1) with 25 points in the school's first game since it announced over the summer it would leave the Summit League and begin the transition to NCAA Division III in time for the 2011-12 season.

Butler, a 6-foot-6 junior guard/forward, eclipsed his previous high of 19 points set March 12 against Villanova.

Maurice Acker scored 11 points and Darius Johnson-Odom had 10 points for Marquette. Matt Marseille scored 11 points for Centenary.

Butler averaged 5.6 points in almost 20 minutes a game a year ago for Marquette, which finished 25-10 and fifth in the Big East last year behind the guard tandem of McNeal, Matthews and James. He made 11-of-16 shots and five offensive rebounds.

Hayward is the only returning starter for Marquette, but Butler is expected to be one of the team's top players.

Against Centenary, Butler set the tone early, scoring 10 points as the Golden Eagles jumped to a 16-6 lead with 13:58 to go in the first half.

Centenary then made its one run of the game, using a 13-2 streak to take a 19-18 lead on Marseille's free throw with 9:02 left in the first half.

Marquette took the lead for good, 22-21, on Acker's 15-foot jumper with 7:41 to go in the first half, and led 40-29 at halftime.

Centenary is barred from postseason play because the team's academic performance ratings failed to meet NCAA standards. With the team heading to Division III, the Gents' top two returning players, Chase Adams and Gary Redus, left the program. Adams transferred to Pittsburgh and Redus to South Alabama.

Perez was a suitable replacement for the departed duo. The 6-foot-3 sophomore made 8-of-16 shots and five free throws to surpass his previous high of 19 points against Northwestern State on Dec. 1, 2008.

Marquette had 28 fastbreak points to Centenary's six, and outscored the Gents in the paint, 48-20.