Wisconsin played Marquette on Saturday, December 4th, at the Kohl Center. The Badgers came out with an 89-76 victory. Wisconsin is 7-1 following the win. It’s early in the season, so it’s hard to say for sure that the Badgers will make the NCAA tournament. But over the early landscape, it seems March Madness awaits. The game between Wisconsin and Marquette is known as; the I-94 rivalry. The 78 miles along the highway separates the two schools. The game was ranked the 16th-best among college basketball programs in 2013 and 13th in 2020.
The MVP of the game was Johnny Davis, a sophomore who led the Badgers with 25 points overall. Daivs averaged seven points a season coming off the bench last year but scored 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting Saturday. Davis averages more than 20 points a game.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best scorers in the country, and he’s shown that night in and night out,” said senior guard Brad Davison, who added 20 points for Wisconsin.
Davidson is no slacker offensively himself. He has averaged 15.9 points per game and 4.5 rebounds for the current 2021-22 season. Davidson and Davis are the two leading players for the Badgers, who can take credit for Saturday’s win. Head coach for the Badgers, Greg Gard, insisted that “it’s not that simple,” crediting the spacing Wisconsin utilizes for creating the lanes that give Davis and Davidson opportunities. The Badgers did that to perfection on Saturday for a stretch in the second half.
At the beginning of the first half, the Badgers were a little slow coming out of the gate. They were 5 of 19 from the field (26%) in a game that started with 13 lead changes and sixties. The Badgers came out and dominated the Golden Eagles during the second half. They took control of the game shooting 11 of 12 as they turned a one-point advantage into a 59-44 lead.
Justin Lewis scored 14 points to lead Marquette’s offense, Oso Ighodaro and Darryl Morsell each; scored 11 points. Head coach for Marquette, Shaka Smart, said the Golden Eagle’s troubles came from their defensive standing. They couldn’t take the lead against the Badgers during the second half and were playing catch up for most of the game. “We just didn’t impose ourselves on the defensive end, and I think that was demoralizing for our guys on offense,” Smart said.
Wisconsin was unaffected by Marquette’s full-court pressure. Marquette has continuously tried to force turnovers against their opponents using their full-court pressure tactic. The Badgers finished with 11 turnovers, just two more than their season average. Saturday’s game was the first true away game for the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles are off to a better-than-expected start under Smart, who is in his first year. He is still trying to figure out how to work the right combination of players.
Wisconsin made their debut in the most recent poll, chalked up another quality win. They have beaten Texas A&M, Houston, Saint Mary’s, Georgia Tech, and now Marquette. The rivalry series for Marquette and Wisconsin is tied 10 to 10. Wisconsin’s next game will be this Wednesday against Indiana. I expect to see big things from the Badgers against the Hoosiers.