In a high-stakes clash with the Kohl Center rocking, the Wisconsin Badgers never trailed against their in-state rivals, the #3 ranked Marquette Golden Eagles, en route to a 75-64 victory on Saturday.
With the big victory, the Badgers have now won 3 straight against Marquette and 4 of the last 5 meetings, and UW improved to 71-59 in the all-time series with the Golden Eagles. This marks the first 3-game win streak by either team in the all-time series since Wisconsin claimed four straight from 1998-2001.
The game’s narrative took shape early on, courtesy of an explosive performance by the Badgers’ Max Klesmit. The junior guard knocked down 5-of-8 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points, all in the first half, his most in his UW career.
Wisconsin faced Marquette’s relentless full-court press and pace-pushing strategy head-on. The Badgers weathered the storm and orchestrated a role reversal to control the tempo. A tenacious defense disrupted the Golden Eagles, sparking a pivotal 7-0 scoring run that allowed Wisconsin to seize control of the game in the first half of play.
Trailing 46-33 at halftime, Marquette initiated a second-half surge, narrowing the Badgers’ lead to one with 14:46 left in regulation. The Golden Eagles seized the opportunity, capitalizing on Wisconsin’s tentative start, intensifying their defensive pressure. The dynamics shifted from the first half, setting the stage for a captivating back-and-forth battle in the game’s late stages. Steven Crowl’s 16 points and impactful presence on the boards, along with AJ Storr’s electrifying 13-point performance, including a crowd-igniting dunk, added to the drama at the Kohl Center.
Marquette guard Kam Jones led the Golden Eagles with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Overall, the Badgers dominated the glass with a commanding 33-18 rebounding advantage. The Badgers reeled in 15 offensive boards and tallied 18 second-chance points. This dominance on the boards proved instrumental in dictating the pace and flow of the game.
The Badgers showcased poise under pressure at the free-throw line throughout the night, especially down the stretch. Wisconsin shot 24-for-28 (85.7%) from the charity stripe, the best clip in a game this season when attempting 20+ free throws. In high-stakes moments, the Badgers calmly converted free throws and maintained their lead to help fend off Marquette’s comeback attempts.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Kohl Center erupted in jubilation as students and fans celebrated by storming the court.
With this triumph, Wisconsin now boasts wins over two top-5 ranked teams early in the season, improving their record to an impressive 6-2. Wisconsin’s win marked UW’s 11th top-10 win, and seventh top-5 win, under head coach Greg Gard.
The Badgers will travel to play Big Ten rival Michigan State at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing on Tuesday.