In a game where both teams struggled to make a bucket, Marquette benefited from shooting 10 more times than the Badgers. The Marquette inside presence was felt all night, as the Golden Eagles (7-0) outrebounded the Badgers (6-2) 44-32. Even on the rebounds Wisconsin did bring in, Marquette was at its back going hard at the glass.
Vander Blue led the Golden Eagles in rebounds with eight, and forward Davante Gardner pulled down seven. Ryan Evans led the Badgers with eight, while Jared Berggren chipped in six. Against a Bo Ryan squad where time of possession is critical for victory, the rebounds helped keep possession on Marquette’s side of the floor.
Perhaps the most important stat of the game was Marquette’s offensive rebounds total, as the Golden Eagles grabbed 17 over the Badgers’ nine. Marquette scored 17 second-chance points off of their offensive rebounds, a total larger than the Badgers’ margin of defeat.
“We didn’t let [Wisconsin] get second-chance points,” Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom said. “They had nine offensive rebounds, and I’m sure that’s less than their average. Last year, they just whooped our tails on the offensive glass. Tonight, we had 17 ourselves. I think when you get stops and don’t give up second chance points or rebounds, then you control the game, pretty much. If you take your time to get those stops, then you can control transition and whatever they want to do, the ball is in your hands and you just have to play smart.”
In a game where Marquette scored 32 points in the paint compared to Wisconsin’s 16, the Golden Eagles’ persistent push and second chance rebounds helped keep the Badgers off balance.
“Having 17 offensive rebounds is critical,” Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. “It’s so hard to score on [Wisconsin] on your first shot opportunity because they’re so big and they’re so fundamentally sound within how they play defensively. You have to have some guys running at it to negate all of that on second and third-chance opportunities.”
Iron unkind to Wisconsin
For the second game in a row, the Wisconsin offense struggled to make a shot, especially from beyond the arc. The Badgers were 16-50 from the field, good for only 32 percent from the floor. The second half was actually an improvement for the Badgers, as the team shot 10 of 27 from the floor for 37 percent.
“I think we had some pretty good looks,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “We know our misses, we know our flaws. We know where they are and we always said we have to hit shots especially from the perimeter in order to free up some stuff going to the basket. We got some points in the paint, but it wasn’t from second-chance opportunities. That’s where [Marquette] got us, on second-chance opportunities.”
While Wisconsin has started off this season blazing the nets from three, the Badgers couldn’t find a consistent stroke from downtown, shooting just 5 for 19 from beyond the arc. Once again, the second half proved kinder to the Badgers. Wisconsin made just one of its seven 3-point attempts in the first half, compared to 4 of 12 in the second. The rough shooting kept the Badgers from regaining control of the game, although the team hit a few key scores in the second half to put pressure on Marquette.
“It was kind of like the game there last year,” Ryan said. “We had the lead, we had the lead, they made a push towards the end kind of like we made that push. When you’re digging that long, I always tell our guys stop digging, pull yourself out of the hole, and we didn’t quite do that.”
The loss against Marquette marks the second straight game that Wisconsin has struggled offensively. Against North Carolina Wednesday, Wisconsin shot close to 36 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point land.
“I think we definitely need to shoot better than that to have a chance,” Ryan said. “That’s two pretty good teams this week. We shoot a little higher percentage and have two or three more shots go down, it’s a different story. This is how these two games went and we’ll see how next game goes. We’re not going to change anything we’re doing. We got some guys that are streaky offensively; I think everybody’s seen that.”