James had 20 points and nine assists to lead Marquette (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) to an 80-62 victory over Oakland on Tuesday night in front of Wade, the Miami Heat star who led the Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four.
Wade was in Milwaukee because the Heat, who he led to the NBA title last season, play the Bucks on Wednesday night.
"He is just a symbol of what Marquette stands for," James said. "When he is in the building he kind of makes you go a little harder. You just want to put on a nice show for somebody like that."
Jerel McNeal added 17 points, six steals, five rebounds and four assists for the Golden Eagles (11-2), who had 27 fast-break points to none for Oakland and shot a season-best 59.2 percent from the field.
Erik Kangas had 16 points for Oakland (6-8), which shot 31.4 percent and had just six field goals in the second half.
Even James said he was surprised at the fast-break differential.
"I have never seen a deficit like that," he said. "That is one thing we pride ourselves on, getting deflections, getting into the open court and utilizing our speed. That's what we did."
Oakland started strong and led by as many as nine points in the first half, but Marquette held the Golden Grizzlies without a field goal for more than nine minutes during a 16-1 run that was capped by a buzzer-beater by James for a 40-36 halftime lead.
Oakland tied it at 40 less than a minute into the second half, and Marquette dominated from there. The Golden Eagles used a 17-3 run over the next seven minutes to put the game away.
The Golden Grizzlies had just three field goals in a span of 18½ minutes over the first and second halves.
"It started on the defensive end," James said. "I have said this time and time before. We get into our flow on the offensive end when we start picking up our intensity on the D."
Marquette coach Tom Crean said it was one of the best defensive efforts he has seen.
"It's still never going to be perfect when you are expecting perfection, especially on the defensive end, but I thought it was as close as we have been in some time to really doing what we needed to do defensively," Crean said. "Our guys were really prepared to play against a hard-nosed, physical, battle-tested team."
Marquette's Ousmane Barro added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
Derick Nelson had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists for Oakland.
Vova Severovas, the Golden Grizzlies' leading scorer at 12.8 points per game, attempted just three field goals in 19 foul-filled minutes. He had 10 points and fouled out with 8:19 left.
The game marked the end of Oakland's stretch of 11 of 14 games on the road, including three against ranked teams. Oakland lost 74-53 at to No. 1 UCLA on Saturday. The Golden Grizzlies have also played at Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Arkansas and Cincinnati.
"We've been in every game, but we just can't get over the hump," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "We just can't keep the other team from going on that run that takes over the game. But playing teams like Marquette and UCLA is going to pay off for us down the line. We don't have to win these games to get to the NCAA Tournament."
Oakland looked road-tested early, taking advantage of eight early Marquette turnovers to lead 23-14 more than nine minutes into the game following a 3-pointer from Jonathon Jones and a basket by Shawn Hopes.
But there were early signs of trouble, as Severovas and Hopes, Oakland's two leading scorers, both picked up two fouls in the first six minutes. Severovas picked up his third with 7:09 remaining in the half and was on the bench as Marquette went on its impressive run, outscoring Oakland 18-6 down the stretch.
The 6-foot-7, 275-pound Hopes fouled out with 9:26 remaining.
"We're just not deep enough to compete against teams like this for a whole game because we keep getting into foul trouble," Kampe said. "They just keep bringing players at us off the bench."
Marquette's shooting performance came one game after the Golden Eagles went just 6-of-18 from the free-throw line and 6-of-21 from 3-point range in a 68-46 victory over Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday.