Wisconsin and Marquette renew the I-94 rivalry Saturday at the Kohl Center

Looking to rebound to a stunning home loss to Milwaukee Wednesday, Wisconsin takes on its oldest nonconference rival Saturday afternoon when Marquette travels to the Kohl Center. BadgerNation analyzes the matchup.

Marquette (7-2, 0-0 Big East) vs. Wisconsin (6-4, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time – Saturday, December 12, 12:30 p.m. central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,287)

Television – ESPN2 (Bob Wischusen and Dan Dakich)

Radio – Badgers Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Wisconsin leads 66-55 (Wisconsin leads 38-16 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 49-38, on December 6, 2014, in Milwaukee

WISCONSIN PROBABLE STARTERS

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Junior Guard, 7.9 ppg)

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Junior Forward, 16.9 ppg)

22 Ethan Happ (6-9 Freshman Forward, 10.7 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Junior Guard, 15.8 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Junior Forward, 9.3 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

21 Khalil Iverson (6-5 Freshman Forward, 3.6 ppg)

24 Alex Illikainen (6-9 Freshman Forward, 2.3 ppg)

30 Charlie Thomas (6-8 Freshman Forward, 4.8 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

Over the last four games, Hayes is averaging 21.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. After a career-high 32 points vs. Milwaukee, the junior is one of just two players in the Big Ten averaging at least 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.

MARQUETTE PROBABLE STARTERS

5 Sandy Cohen (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 9.3 ppg)

13 Henry Ellenson (6-11 Freshman Forward, 16.7 ppg)

21 Traci Carter (6-0 Freshman Guard 6.0 ppg)

25 Haanif Cheatham (6-5 Freshman Guard, 10.1 ppg)

40 Luke Fischer (6-11 Junior Center, 14.6 ppg)

OFF THE BENCH

Duane Wilson (6-2, Sophomore Guard, 12.6 ppg)

23 Jajuan Johnson (6-5 Junior Guard, 8.3 ppg)

PLAYER TO WATCH

A consensus top-10 recruit last season, Ellenson is ranked ninth (16.7 ppg) in the country in scoring and ninth in rebounding (8.8 rpg) among the nation’s first-year players. Ellenson, a former Wisconsin recruit, has reached double figures in scoring in all but one contest and already owns four double-doubles.

LAST TIME OUT

MADISON – Milwaukee made the ugly Wisconsin show up again, resulting in another shocking home loss for Wisconsin and, quite possibly, the defining win for Milwaukee in a 68-67 victory over the Badgers.

“When it came down to it, it was just some basic plays, some ordinary plays, as Coach (Ryan) talks about all the time,” said Panthers head coach Rob Jeter. “To do something extraordinary you have to do it ordinary.”

It’s the second shocking home loss for Wisconsin against a mid-major opponent, but unlike the season-opening loss to Western Illinois, the Badgers were coming off back-to-back impressive wins over No.14 Syracuse and Temple and looked to be steadily taking steps forward over the last week.

Not anymore, as Wisconsin collapsed when Milwaukee shoved the Badgers’ style of basketball right back in their face. Milwaukee (7-3) did the little things – take charges, grab loose balls and get to the free throw line – that Ryan’s teams usually have a patent on down the stretch.

“The best way you can repay a mentor, a father figure, an uncle, a brother, a friend like Bo, is just try and put a team on the floor that plays well and plays the way he taught me to play the game,” said Jeter, a former UW assistant. “We played the game the way he taught me to play it. Our guys played the only way we had a chance to win a game like this.”

The Badgers, however, rushed possessions and, according to junior Nigel Hayes, didn’t follow the pinpoint scouting report from the Wisconsin coaching staff of chasing defenders, forcing point guard Jordan Johnson (22 points) to his other hand and a handful of other offenses.

“We did not do our job,” said Hayes. “Our coaches work extremely hard to give us the recipe for wins. When you don’t execute, this is what happens.”

Hayes finished with a career-high 32 points and shot at least 50 percent of the field (9-for-18) for only the second time this season but got little help from his teammates, who shot 11-for-37. Bronson Koenig finished 5-for-16, including 2-for-10 in the second half, and Vitto Brown went 1-for-9 with three turnovers, including a crucial offensive charge call with 57 seconds left and UW down 66-64.

Even with Wisconsin shooting 7-for-24 (29.2 percent in the second half) and playing without the lead for the final 3:07, the Badgers still had an opportunity to salvage things in the final 13 seconds.

After Akeem Springs hit a pair of free throws for Milwaukee (the Panthers went 6-for-6 over that stretch and 22-for-27 in the game), Koenig hit a 3-pointer – his first bucket since the 14:49 mark – and Panthers J.J. Panoske lost the handled on the ensuing inbounds pass, causing him to travel as he dove to the deck with 11.2 seconds left.

But when Koenig’s cross-over-step-back jumper bounced off the front rim and over the hoop and the mad scramble produce nothing, Milwaukee’s players charged the court and loudly celebrated all the way back to the locker room.

LAST MEETING

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin didn’t have an answer for Duke’s offense on Wednesday night. It was a different story for the No. 2 Wisconsin defensively against in-state rival Marquette Saturday.

Holding the Golden Eagles to its worst offensive performance on the season, the Badgers grinded their way to a 49-38 win inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the fewest points Wisconsin has allowed against Marquette since Wisconsin’s 60-34 win in 1948.

Marquette’s offense isn’t what Duke’s offense is, but Wisconsin (8-1) held Marquette to 13-for-45 (28.9 percent) from the field, and three critical scoring droughts of at least five minutes, two of them coming in the first half.

"I think just bringing it every night,” senior guard Josh Gasser said about the team’s defensive performance against Marquette. “Defensively we're still not quite there but today we were pretty good."

While the droughts in the first half helped the Badgers build their lead, the shutdown performance in the second half occurred when Wisconsin needed the most, stifling Marquette momentum as the Golden Eagles cut a 10-point halftime deficit to two points.

After Sandy Cohen cut the Wisconsin lead to two, Marquette (4-4) went without another point for six minutes and 21 seconds until Matt Carlino (game-high 18 points) stopped the drought by hitting a three with 2:36 remaining. By that time, Wisconsin had built an eight-point lead that never fell below two possessions the rest of the game.

Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin in scoring with 15 points and 10 rebounds, recording his fourth double-double on the year. Gasser was second with 12 points, as the two combined to shoot 9-for-18 from the field. The rest of the team went 8-for-34 from the field.

Despite shooting 32.7 percent from the field (17-for-52), the shots Wisconsin took were high quality shots. It was Gasser (4-for-8 from three) and Kaminsky who were able to knock down a couple of critical threes to help either stop a run by Marquette or help ice the game.

SERIES NOTES

Wisconsin is 94-83 against teams currently in the Big East. Marquette (66-55) and Butler (17-14) make up the majority of those matchups.

MU has met Wisconsin more times (121) than any other opponent in program history. Marquette is Wisconsin’s most played nonconference rival.

Bo Ryan owns an 8-6 record against Marquette, including wins in four of the last six meetings. Ryan and UW have won two-straight games against MU. Ryan has a 5-2 record vs. MU in Madison.

Marquette’s last victory in the Kohl Center came on Dec. 11, 2011 when No. 16 Marquette held off No. 9 Wisconsin 61-54. Guard Darius Johnson-Odom led all scorers with 17 points and Vander Blue added nine points and eight boards.

A total of 15 players (8 - MU, 7 - UW) on the two rosters hail from the great state of Wisconsin, including the leading scorers for both teams in Marquette’s Ellenson (16.7 ppg) and Wisconsin’s Koenig (15.8 ppg). 

Under Ryan, the Badgers have a 33-7 (.825) record in the in-state round-robin with Marquette, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Ryan’s teams have never finished worse than 2-1 in the in-state round-robin series.

Neither team being nationally ranked for this rivalry game is a rarity, as at least one of the two teams has been ranked in 12 of the last 15 meetings.

WISCONSIN NOTES

Dating back to February of 2011, UW is 123-5 (.961) when leading or tied with 5:00 left, including a mark of 6-1 this season. UW lost to Milwaukee when leading 58-55 at the 5:00 mark.

The Badgers are 4th in the Big Ten, turning it over 10.7 times per game, 3.3 turnovers more than they did a year ago when the set a N.C.A.A. record

UW leads the Big Ten and rank 22nd in the NCAA with 14.7 offensive rebounds per game. Overall, the Badgers have grabbed 61 more offensive boards than their opponents (147-86)

Wisconsin freshmen Ethan Happ, Alex Illikainen, Khalil Iverson and Charlie Thomas are combining to average 20.9 points and 15.3 rebounds per game. Freshmen have played 31.8 percent of UW’s minutes.

MARQUETTE NOTES

In the team’s 32 games last season, Marquette had five-or-more players net at least 10 points just twice. In eight of the team’s nine contests this season, Marquette has had at least four players finish with 10-or-more points.

In the last three matchups, the Golden Eagles have combined to outscore GSU (14-0), Maine (22-0) and SJSU (31-7) by a score of 67-7 after the opening jump ball.

Cohen III has been doing more than scoring this season, however, and along with his 9.3 points per game is chipping in 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest while shooting 42.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Through the team’s first nine outings, Marquette’s newcomers (Ellenson, Cheatham, Carter, Anim and Heldt) have seen minutes off the bench are accounting for at least 40 percent of the team’s per game averages in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

PREDICTION

So, now what?

Just when we think we have Wisconsin basketball pegged as a team starting to take some legitimate steps forward, the Badgers wilt in crunch time for another home loss to a mid-major school.

From a statistical standpoint, Wisconsin’s 68-67 loss to Milwaukee seems almost unfathomable. Consider UW’s record under Bo Ryan in these situations: 214-24 (.899) at home, 291-33 (.901) when leading at halftime, 266-13 (.953) when having a better field goal percentage, 157-23 (.872) when shooting at least 40 percent from 3-point range, 258-37 (.875) when outrebounding opponents and 117-16 (.880) when attempting at least 25 free throw attempts

Wisconsin fit all those categories on Wednesday and still lost when the Badgers a) didn’t come out with second-half energy b) didn’t accomplish the little things like winning 50-50 balls, drawing charges, making free throws and limiting turnovers c) taking smart shots and d) showing leadership.

The common theme in Wisconsin’s losses this season is that they don’t achieve at least a handful of those traits, as it was on Wednesday. UW took many shots early in the shot clock without ball movement, and veteran point guard Bronson Koenig was the biggest culprit. Hayes and Koenig – the “veterans” on the roster – pointed the finger direct at the team for not following the coaching staff’s scouting report, a revelation of a lack of leadership that was probably more disappointing the loss itself.

After two impressive victories, it’s clear that the Badgers still have a world of problems they are working through … and now they get their toughest in-state rival, who is playing with some momentum, at the suddenly not-so-formidable Kohl Center.

During its current six game winning streak, which dates back to Nov.23, Marquette is shooting 50.8 percent (186-of-366) from the floor and 50-of-121 (41.3 percent) from behind the 3-point line, well above its season averages of 48.0 and 34.0 percent, respectively.

The team’s defensive effort has been just as important, holding opposing squads to just 34.8 percent from the field and 65.3 points per game (down from season average of 70.6 ppg). It should be noted that the last four wins have come against Jackson State, Grambling State, Maine and San Jose State (I guess Maine State was booked).

Wisconsin hasn’t lost back-to-back nonconference games since 2011 when the Badgers lost on the road to North Carolina and home to Marquette. Can the Badgers do what they did last week and make significant corrections from a loss to rebound against a good team two days later? Yes.

Will they? With this team, who really knows? Marquette is probably better, but Wisconsin has been able to successfully bounce back from its first three losses this season with impressive wins. Let’s see if they make it 4-for-4. UW by 2.

Worgull's Record: 6-4

Points off Prediction: 135 (13.3 per game)


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