MILWAUKEE - Davante Gardner scored 25 points to help No. 17 Marquette beat Southern 63-56 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
The senior forward, Marquette's leading returning scorer and the top sixth man in the Big East last season, was 5 of 7 from the field and made 15 of 20 free throws. He was a point off his career high of 26 points set last season against Syracuse.
Todd Mayo added 20 points for Marquette. The Golden Eagles won their 26th straight home game, the second-longest current streak in the NCAA. Marquette also won its opener for the 13th year in a row.
Malcolm Miller led Southern with 14 points, and Tre Lynch and YonDarius Johnson each had 11.
Marquette, picked to win the revamped Big East by league coaches after advancing to the NCAA regionals last season, led 47-43 lead midway through the second half and used an 11-1 run to take control.
After Gardner made three free throws, Mayo had a steal and layup to end a 6:17 stretch without a field goal by Marquette and give the Golden Eagles a 52-43 lead. Marquette capped the run with six more free throws, including four from Mayo, for a 58-44 lead with 3:35 to go.
During the Golden Eagles' run, Southern missed all five of attempts from the field, was 1 for 7 from the line and had six turnovers.
Before the game, Marquette unveiled a banner commemorating its Big East regular-season championship from last season.