MADISON, Wis. - The Marquette Golden Eagles out-toughed the Wisconsin Badgers in their previous two meetings, and the UW players knew it. They admitted as much in the week leading up to their annual in-state rivalry game, and said that they needed to match Marquette's intensity if they wanted to snap their two-game losing streak on Saturday at the Kohl Center.
And match it they did. The No. 8 Badgers out-hustled the Golden Eagles for most of the game, pulling down 13 offensive rebounds and grabbing five dead ball rebounds along the way to a 70-64 win over Marquette. The Badgers moved to 10-0 with the win, while the Golden Eagles dropped to 5-4.
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said turning those hustle plays into points was key in the game, especially considering the Badgers were able to turn broken plays into points on several occasions.
"You know what that does to you as a player, what it dos to the crowd," Ryan said after the game. "I give them a lot of credit for making some plays that weren't there and they made them."
Junior guard Josh Gasser said out-toughing the Golden Eagles was exactly what the Badgers needed to do to snap their in-state losing streak. Marquette finished the game out-rebounding the Badgers 34-32 and outscored the Badgers by 10 points in the paint, but that was a big improvement from Wisconsin's last game against the Golden Eagles. Marquette dominated the Badgers inside in their 60-50 win in Milwaukee, outscoring the Badgers 36-10 in the paint along the way.
"Last year we got beat on the boards way too much, and to see it pretty much even here was nice," Gasser said. "We gave up too many offensive rebounds at the end there that we'd like to clean up. But overall this week was great for us. We won some grind out games. That's what we're going to need to do come Big Ten season."
Sophomore forward Sam Dekker led the Badgers with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while each of Wisconsin's other four starters finished in double figures as well. Ben Brust finished with 13 points, and Traevon Jackson finished with 12 points and 7 assists.
Jackson and Gasser combined to make 8-of-9 free throws in the game's final minute to seal up the win for the Badgers, and the team made 19-of-23 shots from the line in the game. Those free were crucial for the Badgers in the end, since the Golden Eagles finished the game shooting a higher percentage from the floor.
At 10-0, the Badgers are now the only team in the nation with 10 wins, and secured three wins over non-conference teams that beat them last season. But the players said getting another win against the Golden Eagles felt a little better than their wins over Florida and Virginia, partly because of how they fixed several mistakes that dogged them in their last two games against Marquette.
"We try to treat each game the same, that's what coach Ryan preaches and that's what we do," Gasser said. "But I think both teams tie their shoes a littler tighter [for this one]. You get that extra energy because it's a big rivalry. [Especially] for us, losing the past two the way we did. We're just really happy to come out with a win."
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