McNeal Puts the Buzz On Badgers

Struggling to find the right answers in the first half, No.25 Marquette put its offensive load on senior guard Jerel McNeal, who accepted the assignment by scoring a game-high 26 points to lead the Golden Eagles to a three-point home victory

MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team knew what to do.

After all, Wisconsin was just coming off a hard-earned victory in a hostile environment at Virgina Tech earlier this week, so Saturday night's game at Marquette wasn't much different.

This game, however, the Badgers didn't have an answer for Golden Eagles guard Jerel McNeal.

McNeal scored 26 points as Marquette (7-1) defeated Wisconsin (6-2) 61-58 on Saturday. However, it wasn't just McNeal's sheer point total that made a difference for the Eagles, but more so the timeliness of his scoring.

The Eagles' senior guard scored 14 straight points to help pull Marquette ahead in the second half. While Wisconsin had led by as many as 10 points in the first half, the second half became, as Marquette head coach Buzz Williams described it, a Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali-like battle.

McNeal started his scoring barrage with just under 17 minutes remaining in the second half by hitting a 3-pointer to pull Marquette within four points at 41-37. When he was finished, Marquette was down only 49-48 with six minutes remaining. McNeal then hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:26 remaining, as the Eagles then went on a 10-point run to grab the lead for good.

When it was all said and done, McNeal scored 14-straight Marquette points to put his team in control.

Wisconsin also suffered from a six-minute scoreless streak during this time as well, not scoring until Marcus Landry put in a lay-up with 2:18 remaining.

Most of McNeal's bucket came off of a double ball screen at the top of the key, allowing him to get into open space and make plays for himself.

"It looked like we were running the same play because it was," McNeal said, laughing. "But that's how coach is if something's working."

Added Krabbenhoft: "He was definitely feeling it. … You've got to give credit to him, he was making tough shots."

But even with their scoreless streak and not being able to contain McNeal, the Badgers still had their chances. After Landry scored with 2:18 left, Wisconsin quickly came back.

Trevon Hughes, who led the Badgers with 14 points, hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to pull within four pointers and Wisconsin closed it in to as little as 59-56 with 25.9 seconds remaining.

However, Wisconsin turned it over on a costly possession as Joe Krabbenhoft stepped out of bounds and Hughes would airballed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining, as he was trying to force a foul.

"We had our opportunities and we just didn't take advantage of them," Krabbenhoft said.

"In the first half, we were doing what we wanted, making them shoot outside shots. That was something we wanted to do," he added. "Things kind of switched, they got the momentum and we never got it back."

Wisconsin didn't help itself out much, either, as its assist-to-turnover ratio was 9-to-16, with most of them coming at crucial times, such as Krabbenhoft's down the stretch.

It's the second year in a row Marquette has defeated Wisconsin to claim the rivalry bragging rights.

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