In front of an electric Kohl Center, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team beat in-state rivals Marquette 77–61 Sunday.
The hype was there all week for the I-94 in-state rivalry between the Badgers and the Golden Eagles, and it didn’t disappoint.
Wisconsin’s white-out themed crowd clearly made an impact on the game. They helped the Badgers jump up 16–8 early, on five points each from Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers.
That I-94 intensity was especially prevalent on drives to the rim and the glass. Every time someone went down low, there was just a little extra contact waiting, which forced both teams out beyond the arc.
Big shots from Marquette’s star point guard Markus Howard kept it close. After a seven-point run by Marquette, including a 3-pointer from Howard, the Golden Eagles led 18–16.
The biggest impact player on the floor all night was without a doubt Badger guard Brevin Pritzl. He was all over the glass with eight rebounds in the first half alone, four of which came on the offensive end, and hit a few big momentum shots as well.
With 1:08 remaining in the first half, the Badgers took control the game. Between a big D’Mitrik Trice three, a backdown by Kobe King, a Brad Davison euro-step and a layup by Ford, the Kohl Center was bumping. The explosive run put Wisconsin up 34–29 heading into halftime.
At the break, Trice, Ford and Pritzl led the way with seven points each.
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King again showed everyone the type of player he can be on the first play of the second half. A lightning-quick stepback dropped Eagles’ Sacar Anim to the floor and then King hit a three over his dead body. He finished with ten points, four assists and three rebounds.
All night long, guys made plays for Wisconsin. After fighting for his tenth rebound of the night, Pritzl ran down the floor and found himself open for a corner three. With that, the senior guard had officially recorded a double-double on his way to a 15 point, 13 rebound outing.
Just moments later, Ford hit an NBA-range 3-pointer and followed it up by sending a Markus Howard layup into the backcourt. Ford ended with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
The rich got richer when Trice and Pritzl hit back-to-back threes. It sent the Kohl Center into a frenzy, and Badger fans were undoubtedly in the Golden Eagles’ heads.
Howard was heckled all day, and it really started to show. An airball followed by a few missed layups clearly stagnated the Marquette offense, who seemed to be throwing up worse and worse shots as the game went on. Howard went 0-9 from the field in the second half, finishing with 18 points and four turnovers.
Marquette’s Koby McEwen saw plenty of shots start to fall in the second half, and he finished with 19 points of his own, but it simply wasn’t enough.
Despite a relatively quiet night from Reuvers, who finished with ten points, the Badgers dominated every facet of the I-94 matchup. They busted straight through Marquette’s full man press all game and forced a total of 15 turnovers.
To add to the Badgers’ balanced attack, Davison also had a big performance. He finished with a team-high 15 points and was an emotional leader on the defensive end guarding McEwen and Howard.
It was probably Pritzl’s best game as a Badger, but everyone showed up big. Wisconsin wound up winning 77–61 with six players scoring in double figures, a much-needed offensive win against their in-state rival. Davison gave credit to the adjustments made by the Badgers throughout.
“It makes it a lot harder not knowing where you’re going to get attacked from,” said Davison in the postgame press conference. “We all focus on the little things outside of scoring, because we know the offense will come with those things.”
Wisconsin stays home for another in-state matchup with Green Bay this Thursday before heading to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic the following week.