The Golden Eagles (9-0) burst to a 12-1 lead in the first three minutes, 48 seconds of the game, with Diener leading the way with 10 points. Diener would score a game-high 29 when it was all said and done, hitting big shots throughout a contest that was marked by gritty defensive play. Despite aggravating a sprained ankle in the first half, Diener drilled 5 of 12 3-pointers in the game and connected on 3 of 4 free throws in the final 26 seconds to clinch Marquette's win.
Diener hit two 3-pointers early in the second half to give the Golden Eagles their biggest lead, 40-23. At that point Diener had 21 points, nearly single-handedly outscoring the Badgers.
The wiry Diener was the headline act, but Marquette's defense ensured victory. The Golden Eagles flustered Wisconsin from the opening tip, clogging the lane to keep the Badgers' post game from getting legs. Wisconsin turned it over seven times in the first half, the miscues coming from a combination of poor decisions and the Golden Eagles' frenetic defense.
The Badgers only had three turnovers in the second half, but still struggled to find any flow offensively, shooting just 34.6 percent. As a result, Wisconsin was unable to take advantage of Marquette's 28 percent second-half shooting.
Alando Tucker paced Wisconsin (5-2) with 13 points, nine coming on three desperation 3-pointers late in the game. The sophomore forward, however, had just three rebounds, none on the offensive glass, and turned it over four times.
Marquette out-rebounded the Badgers 44-28 and snagged 14 offensive boards to Wisconsin's four. In just 21 minutes, Golden Eagle senior forward Marcus Jackson snagged a game-high 15 rebounds.
Badger senior forward Mike Wilkinson, hampered by a lower left leg injury, was held to two points and one rebound in 23 minutes. After scoring 42 points in his past three games, UW senior guard Sharif Chambliss scored 12 Saturday, but turned it over three times and was victimized by Diener defensively.
After the initial 11-point edge, Wisconsin made a number of runs to draw within striking range, but could get no closer than six points. The Badgers trailed from start to finish and only seriously challenged for sparse stretches before Diener or a member of Marquette's varied supporting cast stepped up to take any Wisconsin momentum away.
Junior forward Steve Novak added 11 for Marquette, including a crushing 3-pointer from the right wing with 4:43 left to play, which gave the Golden Eagles a 52-40 lead.
Marquette sophomore guard Dameon Mason added eight points and seven rebounds and freshman forward Ryan Amoroso enjoyed a strong evening, pulling down eight rebounds and playing tough defense in 13 minutes. Amoroso's tip-in of his own miss put Marquette up 59-50 with 36 seconds left.
Tucker's third triple followed but Marquette hit 4 of 6 free throws and UW's Chambliss missed a 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds.