In the 117th series meeting all-time in program history, the Marquette Golden Eagles came up short against the in-state rival Wisconsin Badgers 69-64 in front of 19,074 fans at The Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and his very unique style of half-court offense set the tempo early and frustrated Marquette throughout the game as the Badgers were able to slwoly capitalize on 21 second chance points. Wisconsin controlled the glass and we’re grabbing both short and long rebounds with ease.
“We got beat because they got 12 offensive rebounds in the second half,” said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. “Our speed and our athleticism have to help us rebound. Our speed and athleticism should not be nullified when a shot goes up. We have to use our speed and athleticism to take up space and to finish possessions. You can’t just turn and look when a shot goes up. Because we are small, you got to take up the space between you and your man when the shot goes up and then use your speed and athleticism to chase after the ball.”
Despite the Badgers dominance in rebounding, they were only leading Marquette by 2 points at halftime 32-30. Marquette was looking desperately for someone to step up and assume the role as the go-to-guy on offense, but it was a case of too little, too late.
Jimmy Butler and Dwight Buycks led their team in scoring with 15 and 13 points respectively and nearly staged a great Marquette comeback in the closing minutes as Butler’s clutch three-pointer brought the Golden Eagles to within striking distance. However, Dwight Buycks’ turnover with 2.6 seconds left to play sealed the deal for the Wisconsin Badgers as Jordan Taylor sunk 5 of 6 free-throws with 20 seconds remaining in the game to cap off the victory.
The Wisconsin Badgers (8-2) led by as many as 12 points throughout the course of the game even with Jon Leuer, a 2011 NBA Draft prospect, on the bench cheering his team on as the Badgers worked the 35-second shot clock well late in the game and took Marquette out of its typical rhythm and fast break style of play.
Marquette was in bonus the majority of the second-half and slowly crawled their way back into the game going to the free-throw line 22 times and converting 16 (72.7%). However, Wisconsin’s offense and rebounding was just too much as they often times quieted the Bradley Center and Marquette crowd regaining the momentum with crucial baskets down the stretch.
The nationally televised game provided a lot of excitement not only on the court, but in the student section and crowd too. In preparation for one of the biggest games of the season on Saturday against the Wisconsin, many Marquette students and even a few brave Badgers’ fans made their way into the student section. But none we’re more dedicated and prepared than Marquette junior Joey Godziszewski who waited nearly 20 hours and slept outside of The US Cellular Arena, across from The Bradley Center following a Milwaukee Bucks game that very same night with his friends to grab the most coveted and best seats in the house.
The Marquette Golden Eagles wore their gold uniforms for the game with a “HANK” patch commemorating legend Hank Raymonds, who was a successful coach and administrator at Marquette that passed away at age 86 earlier in the week. Both Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will wear this patch on their uniforms in honor of Hank Raymonds for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season.
One Badgers’ fan who stuck out like a sore thumb in the midst of the Marquette gold t-shirts in the student section was Noah Bown who is originally from West Bend, WI, and is currently a freshman at UW-Madison. Noah was able to come across this hot ticket thanks to a friend along with the consequences though of being the center of attention and heckled at prior to the start of the game in his red Wisconsin basketball jersey and shorts.
“I got the ahole chant, but it’s going to be a good game and a good environment,” said Bown. “I didn’t expect anything else.”
Another group of about eight Wisconsin Badgers fans sitting together in the student section said that they have been in worse places and thus far the Marquette Fanatics have friendly.
Fan-favorite “Blue Man”, who dresses in a blue jumpsuit every game, was also in attendance for the game and arrived early in the morning to get the best seat to watch his favorite player ironically, Vander Blue, face the school that he once verbally committed to during his junior year then backed out by decommitting and choosing Marquette instead.
“Vander Blue has to prove a point that Madison’s best thing off is not to have him and Marquette is where he belongs,” said BlueMan.
Freshman Aaron Ledesma and his friends on the 5th floor east wing of McCormick Residence Hall we’re also among the many who put aside studying for upcoming final exams to wait in line to see the Marquette men’s basketball team in action.
“Our number one goal was to get our same spot that we’ve had for the last seven games, we got here 15 hours early, it was hard, it was cold, we did it, and now we’re here and we’re going to beat Wisconsin.”
Even though Marquette’s late surge wasn’t enough to defeat Wisconsin, Big East play is under a month away as Marquette kicks off its conference schedule with a game on New Year’s Day against West Virginia at 10 a.m. Attendance and fan support is rapidly increasing at the Marquette basketball home games at The Bradley Center and we encourage you to stop on by and cheer on our Golden Eagles to victory.
by Ryan Ellerbusch