The Wisconsin Badgers got their biggest win of the early season, defeating the No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles 75-64 at the Kohl Center, improving to 6-2 on the season.
Offensively, the Badgers weren’t overly efficient, shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from three, but got to the free throw line 28 times, converting at a high clip.
Defensively, Wisconsin was great, holding Marquette to their lowest point total of the season in the double-digit win.
Here are the quick takeaways from the Badgers 75-64 win over Purdue.
We can’t talk about this game without bringing up the amazing first-half performance of Max Klesmit, who caught fire in the first half, scoring 21 points on 6/9 shooting, including 5/8 from three-point range.
In a game like Saturday’s against a team that pushed the pace at a high rate and had scored at least 70 points in every contest this season, the Badgers were going to need scoring.
Thanks to Klesmit’s 21 points, Wisconsin was able to put up 46 first-half points, despite shooting 41.4 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes.
That edge in the first half from Klesmit proved to be enough offense to take down Marquette, who never led in this one, despite going on a 12-0 run to cut the deficit early in the second half.
Klesmit didn’t score in the second half, missing on all three of his attempts, as the Badgers focused more on the inside to close it out, but he played a team-high 37 minutes, showcasing his durability, just as he did throughout the course of last season.
I’ve been really impressed by the Badgers’ desire and ability to get to the free throw line this season.
At the beginning of the year, head coach Greg Gard made it an emphasis after last year’s free throw issues, and the changes on the team reflected the desire to be more explosive and aggressive.
They added A.J. Storr, easily the most athletic player on the team, and John Blackwell, who has shown a willingness to get to the basket, while Chucky Hepburn slimmed down to become more explosive.
On Saturday, Wisconsin got to the free throw line 28 times, but more importantly, they converted on 24 of those attempts for an 85.7 percent success rate.
With guards attacking more, the Badgers have sent more consistent free throw shooters to the line, and their percentages are beginning to increase as a result.
It does help that Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl shot 4/5 and 6/8 from the stripe, respectively, as well on Saturday.
The early portion of the season isn’t always the best way to evaluate the minutes distribution, as several players are going in and out of the rotation, while the starters don’t see as much run.
But, in a game as crucial as Saturday’s, Wisconsin shifted their minutes, giving their starters heavy playing time, while only two bench players saw over ten minutes of action.
Max Klesmit led the way with 37 minutes, while A.J. Storr, Chucky Hepburn, and Steven Crowl each eclipsed the 30-minute mark. The only reason Tyler Wahl didn’t was due to foul trouble in the first half.
We got a better sense of the minutes distribution with the game on the line in the second half, as Wahl and Klesmit played 19 minutes, Hepburn saw 18, Crowl saw 17, and Storr saw 15.
John Blackwell and Carter Gilmore led the reserves with 11 minutes, but no other player saw more than six(Nolan Winter).
Notably, Connor Essegian saw three minutes of action, missing his lone three-pointer.