MADISON, Wis. — For the first time since 2013, Wisconsin defeated Marquette 77-61 at the Kohl Center Sunday afternoon.
“It’s always good to beat in-state teams, especially Marquette. It’s a very big rivalry,” Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzl said. “It was just really good to see us come out and execute everything.”
Other than senior guard Markus Howard, who had 16 of Marquette’s 29 points, there was not much going for the Golden Eagles’ offense in the first half.
While Howard was 6-of-12 from the floor, the rest of his team scored just 13 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
“We still don’t have an identity completely offensively,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “We know who we want to be, but that’s not who we are….We have to figure out who we are offensively, not just that, but embrace it.”
After Wisconsin jumped to a 16-8 lead, MU went on an emphatic 10-0 run to reclaim an 18-16 advantage. Both teams were sloppy in the middle of the half, but the Badgers sank four of their last five shots prior to halftime to take a five-point lead.
“It’s something we talked about in the timeout before that run….Win this four-minute game and come out firing, come out hot,” junior guard Brad Davison said. “He wants everyone to be aggressive. He wants everyone to be confident.”
Despite the Golden Eagles’ shooting 55.6% from three in the first half, the Badgers had a 9-0 advantage in second-chance points.
“That’s part of trying to shut down or control a pretty explosive team is to make sure both ends of the floor need to be played,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard said.
Wisconsin dominated in the second half while limiting Howard to just two points on 0-for-9 shooting in the second half.
“He’s one of the best (scorers) in college basketball,” redshirt junior guard D’Mitrik Trice said. “Definitely shutting him down and holding him to 6 for 21 is obviously a big accomplishment….Just jabbing at him and making him think twice about what he wanted to do was a big thing for us and that’s how we were able to shut him down in the second half.”
The Badgers also limited post players Theo John, Ed Morrow and Jayce Johnson to four points.
“Last game they started off hot in the paint,” Trice said. “A big emphasis this week was to not let Theo John get it down low. Our team defense really stepped up.”
Wisconsin had a 24-10 advantage in points in the paint Sunday despite playing without Ethan Happ, who graduated after last season.
“Ethan and Khalil (Iverson), those guys are great players, but when you try to replace them with one guy, it’s not really going to work out,” junior Brad Davison said. “It’s got to be a team effort.”
Meanwhile, the Badgers knocked down seven threes in the second half alone.
“They’re a better shooting team,” Wojciechowski said. “From Trice to Reuvers, they have all guys who can make threes….They have more guys into the post. Their physicality both defensively and offensively was much better than ours.”
Redshirt junior Koby McEwen led all Marquette players with 19 points, making all four 3-pointers and going 5 for 5 from the free throw line.
“I saw him when he was in high school before he went to Utah State. I thought that if he evolved and developed, he was going to be pretty good,” Gard said. “He’s a nice compliment to Howard….He’s big. He’s physical. He’s definitely improved his shooting. He didn’t shoot it like that when he was younger.”
Pritzl, a 6-foot-3 graduate student, finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
“That Brevin Pritzl really gave us a big spark,” Gard said. “Brevin’s ability to defend and really rebound got him feeling good by himself and then obviously was able to make shots.”
Once again, turnovers plagued Marquette. The Badgers converted the Golden Eagles’ 15 turnovers into 19 Wisconsin points.
“We were not nearly as fundamentally sound as we needed to be,” Wojciechowski said. “The two areas that really hurt us…was their points off turnovers and their second shots.”
The Badgers now have a 68-58 lead the all-time series that dates back to 1917 after Sunday’s win.
“It really helps perpetuate the game and puts a spotlight on the game in our state,” Gard said. “I saw something before the game, it was the best game today in the country in terms of two teams. All the eyes nationally were here on the Kohl Center.”
Marquette (2-1) will look to rebound from its first loss of the season against Robert Morris University next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fiserv Forum.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re a work in progress,” Wojciechowski said. “We have a lot of work to do and that’s obvious I think now to everyone after this afternoon.”