Johnny Davis showed why he is one of the best players in the Big Ten and maybe the country this season on Saturday, as he went for 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting as his #23 ranked Wisconsin Badgers torched YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles 89-76 at the Kohl Center. MU drops to 7-2 on the season after losing their first true road game of the year.
If you missed the game and are relying on this recap for information about the game, you might be saying, “wait, 89-76? That’s only 13 points, what do you mean torched, 13 points is an okay loss, all things considered.” Yeah, you’re right, but you are also wrong.
With three minutes left in the first half, Marquette led what was a back-and-forth and also not particularly well-executed game, 29-25. The Badgers outscored the Golden Eagles 9-2 through the end of the half, and went into the break up 34-31. Not what you want, to be clear, but not the worst thing in the world, either. Marquette had held the Badgers to an effective field goal percentage of just 43% for the first 20 minutes, and it’s hard to be upset when your defense is working that well.
That’s pretty much when the defense stopped working that well.
Marquette started out the second half well, getting out to a 36-34 lead on a Darryl Morsell three-pointer, and a dunk from Justin Lewis made it 38-36 next time down the floor. That’s when Wisconsin kicked off a 9-2 run that gave them a 46-40 advantage with 14:43 to go. Marquette flitted some free throws at the margin, and UW threw an 8-0 run on the table. 59-44, 10:22 to go, and that was that.
Yeah, yeah, Justin Lewis hit a three with 8:34 to go to cut it to an eight point game, 61-53, but, uh, that just makes what came next even worse. Brad Davison answered on the other end with a three of his own to jumpstart an 8-0 run to make it 69-53, and it just kept going from there. The lead ultimately peaked at 23 with 3:03 to play as the Badgers shot 70% from the field, 56% from behind the arc, and 80% in the eFG% department to make the victor here very clear. From there, Marquette put together a 13-3 run to close the game out, but that’s all garbage time stuff and doesn’t matter in terms of what happened here.
Johnny Davis was great for all 40 minutes, or at least for the 30 minutes that he played, and he carried the boat for the Badgers until his teammates got it going to back him up in the second half. Marquette clearly would have had a chance to win if it was only Davis going off, the first half makes that clear, but once Davison and Chucky Hepburn were hitting shots, too, that was pretty much that for the Golden Eagles.
To be clear, it was a defensive failure by Marquette, allowing Wisconsin to garner 1.17 points per possession in this game. MU tallied 1.00/possession on their own end, somewhat thanks to that late burst, I’m sure, but you can win with that efficiency.... if you’re getting stops. The Golden Eagles were not, not just in the shooting department, but also in the turnover department. MU was going to need their deflection machine spooling to the highest order to counter the Badgers’ ability to maintain control of the ball, but that didn’t happen. Wisconsin committed just 11 turnovers in the game for a very good for them/very meager for Marquette 14.4% turnover rate, and that’s just not what the Golden Eagles needed here.
Justin Lewis led Marquette with 14 points, but he also committed six turnovers, several which were of the “I have gotten into the lane with my dribble and now I shall make a move, wait, where did the ball go?” variety. Darryl Morsell had seven rebounds to go with his 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting, while Tyler Kolek dished a game high eight assists, but went just 1-for-6 from the field.
Up Next: Kansas State! The Golden Eagles will be back on the road this coming Wednesday night as they go to The Little Apple for their game as part of the Big East/Big 12 Battle. K-State is 4-2 on the year with two losses in their only games against Major Seven opponents this season, and they’ll visit Wichita State on Sunday before hosting the Golden Eagles.