MADISON—Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom scored 17 points and freshman guard Todd Mayo chipped in with 14 to lead unbeaten and No. 16/16 ranked Marquette over No. 9/7 Wisconsin, 61-54 at the Kohl Center on Saturday afternoon.
Marquette shot just 38 percent from the field and 18 percent from three-point range but was able to clamp down defensively on the Badgers, holding them to just 32 percent from the field and 26 percent from downtown.
Marquette Coach Buzz Williams stressed the importance of defense to the program after the game.
"I think [our defense] is the key to the level of success that we can achieve as a team this year", said Williams. "I think that in prior years we have proven that the level of success will be dependent on our defensive efficiency."
Mayo, along with freshman guard Derrick Wilson, stepped in for the suspended Junior Cadougan and helped the Golden Eagles badger Wisconsin defensively. Cadougan violated team rules and did not play.
Preseason All-American Jordan Taylor, who was in foul trouble for much of the game, was limited to just 13 points (leading UW) thanks to MU's team effort defensively. The Golden Eagles forced the senior guard into five turnovers when Taylor had committed just seven turnovers prior to Saturday's game.
Marquette grabbed the lead with 6:41 remaining in the first half and held on for the final 23 minutes. A 16-5 gave the Golden Eagles a 10-point advantage heading into intermission.
Wisconsin battled back in the second half, coming as close as a point after a Ben Brust layup at the 10:45 mark. Johnson-Odom and Mayo seemed to have an answer for every attempted Badger comeback.
"Darius Johnson-Odom made some tough shots down the stretch," said Taylor. "Todd Mayo did too, but it was just of matter of us letting them get comfortable and doing things they're used to doing."
In his return to his hometown, sophomore guard Vander Blue had a solid all-around performance. He scored nine points, grabbed eight rebounds while handling some point guard duties in Cadougan's absence.
"Obviously this is a big win and I knew coming in what to expect with the fans, the crowd and me coming back here," said Blue. "I'm just happy we got the win."
With Jae Crowder and Chris Otule combining to score just three points, Marquette needed to get contributions elsewhere and on Saturday they were able to get significant contributions from their bench, outscoring UW 32-11 in that category. Davante Gardner scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds and Jamil Wilson added five.
Marquette heads out to New York City following the win and will take on the Washington Huskies in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Game time is set for 8PM CST and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
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