MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin associate head coach Greg Gard summed up the Badgers' 60-50 loss to Marquette in last year's rivalry game in just one sentence.
"That wasn't a very good night for the guys in red and white," Gard said, when asked what he remembered about last year's game at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
That's putting it simply. The Badgers finished the game shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor, after making just 8-of-23 field goals in the first half. Hitting 6-of-16 3-pointers in the second half narrowed the gap a little, but in the end the game was won up front.
Several Badgers said the Golden Eagles manhandled them near the basket, where the Marquette out-scored the Badgers 36-10 in the paint and won the rebounding battle to boot.
"They took it to us physically [and] mentally," sophomore forward Sam Dekker said. "Their environment got to us, and we were very soft. We don't want to feel that again this year."
Dekker in particular had a rough night in one of his first career starts for the Badgers. Dekker made just 2-of-10 field goals in the game, including an 0-for-4 night behind the arc. He finished the night with just 6 points and three turnovers, but said he understands now just home important matching Marquette's physicality will be in the game this Saturday.
"You can throw the records aside, you can throw the talent on each side aside," Dekker said. "It's going to be a battle up front, and whoever wins the physical game is going to end up on top."
The Badgers were also a little short-handed against the Golden Eagles last year, with Josh Gasser out for the season to rehab his torn ACL and Mike Bruesewitz forced to sit out with a concussion. With Gasser back in the fold and averaging over 10 points per game the Badgers will look to him to help keep the Golden Eagles in check on the perimeter, in addition to maintaining the team's composure on the court.
"You know they're going to bring their 'A' game," Gasser said of the Golden Eagles. "They're a tough team, they're fast, they're strong, they're athletic, and if you don't match their intensity and physicality stuff like last year will happen."
Gasser said he's always had the Marquette-Wisconsin game circled on his calendar, especially since he grew up closer to Milwaukee and Marquette than he did to Madison and the Badgers. Gasser, a Port Washington, Wis., native, said if he could have played in just one regular season game last year he would have wanted to take the court in Milwaukee last year against the Golden Eagles.
"I love rivalries like this," Gasser said. "You know it's going to be a great game. You can't play 30 minutes and come out with a win."
"This is the big game for the fans-bragging rights for the state. It's just a fun game to be a part of … It's Marquette-Wisconsin. That pretty much sums it up."
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