"We weren't as fundamentally sound …" Wisconsin's coach said. "And it was pretty evident."
Wisconsin wasn't fundamentally sound on the glass, being out rebounded 41-34, allowing the Golden Eagles to outscore the Badgers 26-18 in second chance points.
Wisconsin wasn't fundamentally sound with its ball handling, turning the ball over 18 times.
Wisconsin wasn't fundamentally sound with its free throwing shooting, missing 10 free throws and shooting 54.5 percent from the line in the second half.
There were a lot of things Wisconsin didn't do particularly well in Saturday's 81-76 loss to in-state rival Marquettte. But, on the other side of the ball, there were a lot of things Marquette did do well. The Eagles were, if you will, fundamentally sound, and it started with Dominic James.
The 5-foot-11 junior point guard scored a game-high 20 points. And while carried the scoring load, he also jump-started the Golden Eagles' offense by dishing out a game-high six assists.
Despite Marquette's lack of size versus Wisconsin—its tallest player was 6-foot-10 reserve forward Ousmane Barro — James got his big men involved by penetrating the lane and finding them on drop passes.
And James' play had a profound effect on the Marquette's other guards — Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews — played throughout the night.
"They know when to take good shots, they know when to go through the offense and their bigs have definitely matured," said forward Brian Butch, who led Wisconsin with 17 points and six rebounds. "And, their guards know when to get the bigs into situations—driving and kick; they did an excellent job of that (Saturday)."
Marquette's big men weren't going to back down, either. They knew they were going to have to control the boards to win this heated rivalry game, despite the size discrepancy.
"We didn't feel like we could compete at the highest level with Wisconsin if we weren't doing a great job at rebounding," Marquette coach Tom Crean said.
Added James: "Toughness always prevails. That's what rebounding is all about."
The Eagles were certainly tough, bullying the Badgers in the post and outscoring them 44-30 in the paint.
However, that's not to say the Badgers didn't have their chances. Wisconsin gained a 50-46 lead in the early second half, but allowed Marquette to storm back. After Trevon Hughes tied the game back up at 64, the Badgers simply didn't have enough gas to regain the lead as the Eagles went on a 7-1 to put the game in hand.
Down the stretch, Marquette simply played calm and cool.
"You know if you're going to come into this game, you're going to have to play with emotion, play with enthusiasm and energy, but you're going to have to be smart, and you have to be tough," Crean said. "I think we had that smartness and that toughness that leads to maturity, and that's what we did (Saturday)."
Wisconsin, on the other hand, didn't stick to the fundamentals.
"The pressure got to us a little bit," Hughes said. "And it starts with me—I'm the point guard."
"I just kind of took it as a joke," he later added. "And I should have never did that."