Two years ago, a Badger team led by seniors Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker got vital contributions from role players Marcus Landry (11 points, four blocks) and first-year player Trevon Hughes, giving a then career-high in minutes, rebounds, steals and assists, leading to a 70-66 road victory.
One year ago, Wisconsin committed 18 turnovers, were out-rebounded 41-34 and the Golden Eagles made more free throws, a stat very uncommon with a Bo Ryan coached team and traits that led to a five-point home loss.
This year's edition provided both the 2006 and 2007 storylines for the Badgers. Unfortunately, this year's game was a sequel, not a remake.
Despite having a size advantage over the Golden Eagles' guard-oriented lineup, the speed of Marquette's three senior guards made the difference once again, making the Badgers fundamentally off target, which was a big reason for No.25 Marquette earning a 61-58 victory Saturday night.
The Badgers (6-2) were out of sorts in all areas, being out shot from the free throw line, shooting only 53.8 percent from the free throw line and, for the second year in a row, out worked Wisconsin on the glass.
"It was big time for us tonight," said senior Jerel McNeal of the rebounding, as he led all scores with 26 points. "Most of the teams we're going to play are bigger than us. We know that we have to play a certain way and that we need to have a certain aggressiveness to us and have a chip on our shoulder anytime we get on the court, establishing on the rebounding.
"I think we were (the aggressors) and that's what ultimately that is why we won the game. Our aggressive kept a lot of their guys in foul trouble. We wanted it more and we went out there and over-exerted ourselves on the boards."
The Badgers held a six-rebound advantage at halftime and scored six second-chance points to Marquette's zero. In the final 20 minutes, Marquette (7-1) grabbed 21 rebounds to UW's 14 and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, which led to 10 second-chance points.
"For us to get as many offense rebounds in the second half and with our roster set up the way it is and the way there roster is, I thought that was the storyline in the second half," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams admitted.
Even before Wisconsin scored only two points in nine possessions to see its cushion dissipate, the Badgers succumbed to the speed of Marquette's senior guard trio and its ball pressure.
After UW committed a season-high 22 turnovers against the pressure of Connecticut, Wisconsin's size had trouble matching up on offense and defense. Defensively, the Badgers were forced to chase McNeal off the double screens and scramble to get in the lane. The result was 14 first-half fouls and 26 overall fouls, the most UW has committed in the past two seasons.
Offensively, UW failed in its fundamentals, especially down the stretch. After Marquette took its first lead since the opening minute, the Badgers were handcuffed. After the upperclassmen came up big down the stretch at Virginia Tech, it was the same group that made the missteps, as Jason Bohannon turned the ball over by dribbling the ball off his foot and Joe Krabbenhoft was twice called for having his foot on the baseline in the final minutes.
"They took us out of some things that we like doing and we made some mistakes," Marcus Landry said. "A couple of turnovers, losing the ball, stepping out of bounce, different things. All those things add up."
While the errors were the glaring effect, the Badgers did get contributions from the undercard. Sophomore Keaton Nankivil tied his career high with 11 points and was one of the few successors to penetrate the paint consistently. Freshman Rob Wilson, playing the most minutes of his career, was active on the boards (career-best five rebounds) and from the field, scoring a career-high seven points to only one turnover.
"Keep an eye on him," said UW head coach Bo Ryan of Wilson. "He's an interesting guy. I think he's ready to step it up even a little more. I saw some good things in what he brings to the table. Guys earned their minutes and he's earned them."
But the bonuses weren't enough to outweigh the mistakes down the stretch, as the Badgers, for the second year in a row, were out rebounded by a smaller, quicker team from downtown Milwaukee down the stretch.
"The second half, they were the aggressor in every aspect in the game, specifically rebounding," Joe Krabbenhoft added. "They attacked the glass as hard as I have ever seen anybody attack the glass and we have to match that. We can do that and we have players that can do the same thing."