Floor slaps: Offense struggles in second against Wisconsin


Photo by Austin Anderson

Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ (left) and Zak Showalter (right) defend Haanif Cheatham during the second half.

Offense stalls coming out of halftime

The Golden Eagles led 40 to 35 heading into the break behind a four 3-pointers from Katin Reinhardt. However, the offense hit a wall after the break. Wisconsin held Marquette to just 10 points over a 12-minute span and went on a 32 to 5 run. The blue and gold coughed the ball up five times and shot an abysmal 4 of 15 from the field during the dry spell.

“We’re not good enough defensively to let our offense hurt our defense,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.

Wisconsin’s interior defense improved dramatically with Ethan Happ’s return to the court. The sophomore sat out 18 minutes of the first half after picking up two fouls in the first two minutes. His rim-protecting presence allowed the Badgers to be more aggressive guarding the perimeter, and the Marquette offense was unable to respond. In the second half, Marquette assisted on just one field goal. Their usual exchange-driven offense was smothered.

One freshman dazzles, while the other struggles to stay on the floor

On the biggest stage of his young career, Markus Howard put together a fine performance. The 17-year-old led all scorers with 22 points on 50 percent shooting, despite battling a stomach virus.

“Markus is a hell of a competitor,” Wojciechowski said, “he’s had five or six bags of IV fluids since our Fresno State game.”

Howard played a team-high 34 minutes and turned the ball over just once. With Traci Carter sidelined by a knee injury, Howard was the main ball handler for the Golden Eagles, which makes that statistic even more admirable. On the flip side, Sam Hauser had a tough night. The freshman picked up two fouls midway through the first half and was unable to get into the flow of the game. Although he ended up playing 18 minutes, the Stevens Point native was held scoreless for the first time in his college career. His night ended on a disqualification after he picked up his fifth foul with 27 seconds left in the contest.

Ethan Happ takes over

Head coach Steve Wojciechowski and the Golden Eagles couldn’t have dreamed of a better start. With just one minute and 41 seconds expired of the clock, Wisconsin’s most important player, Happ, had already picked up two fouls. Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard opted to keep Happ on the bench for the rest of the first half, and it paid off in a huge way. The 6-foot-10 center was a beast after the intermission, scoring 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting. He also chipped in with a block, two assists and five boards. The Badgers were a completely different team with Happ on the court and it showed during their 32 to 5 run second half run.

Golden Eagles struggle on the defensive side… again

Marquette was solid on the defensive side in the first half, surrendering just 35 points. Then the second half happened. Marquette’s interior defense imploded with Happ back on the floor as the Badgers shredded them for 58 second half points. 26 of those came in the paint as the Golden Eagles failed to rotate on a numerous occasions. Wisconsin finished the game 32-55 from the field and 8 of 18 from three.

“Our defense has to get a lot better and there’s no question about that,” Wojciechowski said.

When the clock struck zero, Wisconsin had tallied 93 points, the most in the entire 123-game history between the two teams.

Luke Fischer MIA in the second half

With Happ on the bench in the first half, the game plan was clear – get Fischer the ball. The senior took advantage of his matchup going 4 for 5 from the field. He also was effective passing the ball out of double teams, adding three assists. In the second half, Fischer was stifled. Much of the credit should be given to Happ. Despite having two fouls on his mind, Happ was able to disrupt Fischer’s go-to hook shoot and hold him to one of three shooting from the field in the second half. Overall, Wisconsin edged Marquette in the paint. The Badgers outscored the Golden Eagles 42 to 30 in the paint and outrebounded them 33 to 27.

Carter misses second game in a row

Despite being declared available by CBS Reporter Jon Rothstein earlier this morning, Traci Carter’s knee held him out yet again. However, the sophomore did dress and warm up.

Best stat line

Markus Howard: 6 of 12 from the field, 3 of 6 from three, 7 of 8 from the free throw line, three rebounds, one assist and just one turnover

Stat of the night: Marquette assisted on one basket in the second half

Attendance: 18,691

Up next: The Golden Eagles host St. Francis Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.