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HomeSportsBasketballNo. 3 Marquette set to battle Wisconsin for state superiority

No. 3 Marquette set to battle Wisconsin for state superiority


Rankings and records will be irrelevant when No. 3 Marquette makes the 80-mile trip to face Wisconsin on Saturday in the annual nonconference matchup of in-state rivals in Madison.

Both Marquette and Wisconsin took care of business this week in tune-up victories following impressive tournament showings. Marquette (6-1) rolled past Southern 93-56 on Tuesday, and Wisconsin (5-2) defeated Western Illinois 71-49 on Monday for its fourth consecutive win.

The I-94 rivalry began in 1917 and has been played every season but one since 1958-59. The Badgers lead the overall series 70-59, including an 80-77 overtime victory last season in Milwaukee.

Before facing Southern, the Golden Eagles competed in the Maui Invitational, where they defeated UCLA 71-69, topped then-No. 1 Kansas 73-59 and fell 78-75 in the championship game to then-No. 2 Purdue, which moved atop the poll this week.

“Right now, we’re not the best team in the country, because we just lost to the best team in the country before this game,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said after the Southern game. “We certainly have the potential to play with and beat anyone.”

On Tuesday, Marquette’s Tyler Kolek had a team-high 16 points and four of his teammates scored in double figures. The Golden Eagles scored 38 points off turnovers to just two for Southern.

“I thought the way our guys shared the basketball was really good,” Smart said. “Southern, coming into tonight, was top 15 in the country (in takeaways), and we only had six turnovers for the game.”

Kam Jones leads the Golden Eagles with an average of 16 points per game, followed by Kolek at 13.9 and Oso Ighodaro at 13.7 with a team-best 6.6 boards per game.

Marquette averages 81.4 points per game while allowing 65.9. The Golden Eagles average 8.6 turnovers while forcing opponents into 16.3 giveaways per contest. Wisconsin has had single digit turnovers in 5 of its 7 games.

In the Badgers’ win over Western Illinois, Steven Crowl had 13 points and 11 rebounds to pace a balanced attack. AJ Storr and Chucky Hepburn each had 13 points, and Tyler Wahl added 12.

Wisconsin is starting to get back to its defensive identity. Last season, the Badgers allowed 63.6 points per game last season and were 13-3 when holding opponents to 60 points or fewer.

In getting off to a 1-2 start this season, the Badgers allowed an average of 76 points per game, but just yielded just 54.8 points on average over the next four.

“I think we’re getting there,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said after the Western Illinois game. “I think we’re a little more consistent, especially on the defensive end. I thought we were decent defensively tonight, it was the offensive rhythm that we just couldn’t get.”

Wisconsin went into the Leathernecks game after winning the Fort Myers Tip-Off’s Beach Division, including a 69-61 comeback win over SMU in the title game.

“We know we’ve got really good teams coming down the road here, starting with Saturday,” Gard said. “But it’s still about making sure we’re trying to play the game as well as possible. I think the Florida trip was good for us. I thought we did some really good things there and then you have to carry it over and grow it. And that will continue to be the challenge going forward.”

–Field Level Media

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