MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Early in the second half, Marquette's Dominic James yelled to the crowd, "Let's go! Let's Go!"
His teammates followed James' wish and then ran away from Savannah State for a 69-51 victory Saturday.
James and Wesley Matthews each scored 22 points to lead No. 18 Marquette (13-2), which tied its second-best start since 1992-93.
Matthews, who established a career high in points, had 12 in the first half, but the Golden Eagles couldn't pull away from the Tigers (6-12), who played without Javon Randolph, their injured leading scorer who is out with a knee injury.
"The way we played in the first half won't suffice for what we need to do," Matthews said. "We have to be able to put together two halves of Marquette basketball."
Marquette, which handed Savannah State its 12th loss in its last 13 games, broke open a close game at the start of the second half. James scored eight points in a 19-6 run as Marquette opened a 51-37 lead.
"Early on they were clogging the paint," said James, who had 15 points in the second half. "I was just trying to penetrate and make plays."
The Tigers made just two of 13 shots from the field during the run and never got closer than 11 points the rest of the game. The Tigers finished at 39.4 percent from the field.
"We scored some points," Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax said. "We get that resistance at 45 points."
Meanwhile, Marquette shot 50 percent, including 58.3 percent in the second half (14-of-24).
Matthews added a season-high nine rebounds and James had six assists for the Golden Eagles, who open their Big East Conference schedule Thursday at Providence.
Joseph Flegler had 15 points for Savannah State and Josh Obiajunwa added 11.
Marquette led by as many as nine points in the first half, 29-20, but Flegler hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to close the gap to 29-25.
Marquette made 15 of 21 free throws in taking a 32-31 halftime lead. The Golden Eagles were coming off a seven-day layoff, which may have affected their first-half performance, which included 11 turnovers.
"I don't think (the energy) was there in the first half," Marquette coach Tom Crean said.
Broadnax noticed the Golden Eagles weren't playing their type of game until the second half.
"They came out and knocked down shots, stepped up defensively and got to the basket, and started looking like the Top 25 team they are," Broadnax said.
Despite the shaky first-half effort, James believes Marquette is ready for the Big East.
"We're ready for the conference season," James said. "At Providence, that'll be a test for a young team."
Marquette finished 22-of-33 from the free throw line, while the Tigers were 5-of-10.