A Badger Balancing Act

In match-up between two in-state rivals that know each others ins and outs, Wisconsin got contributions from all areas of its roster, whether it be points, offensive rebounds or other little things that made a big difference in Wisconsin's 69-64 victory over Marquette.

MILWAUKEE – Wisconsin still has two games left on its non-conference schedule, but after Saturday's 69-64 win over Marquette one thing seems certain: This team is ready for Big Ten play.

On the road in a hostile atmosphere, the Badgers responded by turning in the type of performance they'll need if a successful Big Ten season is in store.

In fact, if Marquette head coach Buzz Williams is correct, it could turn out to be quite an interesting season for Wisconsin.

"I think it's the best team they've had since I've been here," Williams said. "I don't think the world knows it now, but I think they will."

That might be a bit presumptuous, considering UW went 31-5 in Williams' first year at Marquette. But the point is UW made winning plays when it mattered.

In the decisive second half, took care of the basketball and got contributions from players not named Jon Leuer or Jordan Taylor.

But most important was the tenacity with which the Badgers hit the offensive boards. Wisconsin grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the second half, including four from Mike Bruesewitz and two each from Keaton Nankivil, Leuer and Ryan Evans.

"We got beat because they got 12 offensive rebounds in the second half," Williams said.

In one particular stretch UW grabbed three offensive rebounds in one trip.

"When it ends up being that close of a game, two or three possessions in a row like that makes a huge difference," Nankivil said.

Those 12 extra possessions wouldn't have been as important if UW turned right around and handed the ball back to Marquette. After turning the ball over seven times and assisting on just six baskets in the first half, the Badgers turned it around – eight assists and just three turnovers in the second half.

Taylor led all scorers with 21 and Leuer added 17 and, but the contributions of others were just as important.

"Keaton really stepped up, Mike Bruesewitz, Josh Gasser, they all stepped up," Leuer said. "That was fun."

Bruesewitz scored just two points, but he grabbed eight rebounds and drew a charge in the first half.

Nankivil scored in double digits for the second game in a row and had an offensive rebound, a defensive rebound and a block in the final two minutes of the game.

Gasser, playing in this game for the first time, handled Marquette's pressure relatively well and forced Dwight Buycks to commit the turnover that sealed the win.

Jared Berggren, played just nine minutes, but scored eight points and looked good in the post and played solid defense.

"Inside on the offensive end, I think he had eight points, all those were in close to the basket," Bruesewitz said. "He gave us a steady inside presence we could go to."

Going forward, the Badgers will face more tough atmospheres and difficult opponents. But with a couple games and plenty of practice between now and then, things look promising.

"That's really when we'll hit our stretch, but we're close," Bruesewitz said. "We're getting there."


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