Led by the calming presence of Jordan Taylor at the point, the offense looked good for the majority of the game, despite a few difficulties with the perimeter defensive pressure applied by Marquette. Taylor took control of the game when he was out on the court and broke the full court pressure by the Golden Eagles with ease. Taylor's unique ability to not over penetrate but also attack the basket given the right opportunity makes him an ideal fit for the pace Bo Ryan prefers.
Furthermore, Wisconsin got the ball into the post to Jon Leuer on a consistent basis, resulting in Marquette sending its defensive rotations to Leuer's side and ultimately ending in open shots for other players. When Marquette did not shade towards Leuer or double down, Leuer took advantage of the smaller Golden Eagles defenders and was able to score from all over the floor.
The most notable part of the offense was the relentless pursuit of offensive boards. Wisconsin took advantage of a major size advantage at nearly every position and pulled down 15 offensive boards, many coming at crucial junctures of the game. It seemed that every time Marquette had gotten a key defensive stop, the Badgers would come away with at least one offensive board and either score or continue to run time off the clock.
Lastly, it was great to see senior big man Keaton Nankivil continue his assertiveness on both ends of the court. Nankivil hit some big shots early and appeared poised, and confident when left open on the perimeter throughout the game. Nankivil has excellent touch from the perimeter but seems to get down on himself if he misses a few early looks. Thus, it was extremely important for Nankivil to see the ball go through the hoop early on against Marquette, as he rode this early confidence boost till the final horn.
Wisconsin kept the Golden Eagles from getting easy baskets in transition and forced Marquette to play in its half-court set. As a result of preventing fast break baskets, the Badgers limited the Golden Eagles number of possessions and ultimately made Marquette run a half-court offense, something Marquette did not appear to have. Although Marquette did shoot fairly well from the field, the Golden Eagles did not appear comfortable on offense and relied almost exclusively on isolation plays from their guards.
Taylor, Rob Wilson, Josh Gasser and Ryan Evans all did a good job of communicating defensive switches and containing dribble penetration from Marquette's guard-heavy lineup. Additionally, Leuer and Nankivil altered a significant amount of Marquette's shots near the basket and made up for any lack of foot speed on the perimeter for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin did two things exceptionally well; owned the offensive glass and controlled the pace of the game, despite being on the road. Thus, the Badgers left Milwaukee with a road win over a quality non-conference opponent and most importantly, bragging rights for the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin did not get rattled by the boisterous Golden Eagle crowd and responded to every Marquette run with a basket of its own. The game did get closer than it should have at the end; however, Wisconsin ultimately prevailed on the road and can hopefully use this game as an example of where it can improve upon in the closing minutes of a tight game.
Game MVP: Taylor. Dictated the tempo, played great perimeter defense, single-handedly broke Marquette's press, and shot the ball well, really could not have asked for more out of Taylor this afternoon.