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Wisconsin vs. Marquette: Badgers too big to fail, win 49-38 in Milwaukee

Chalk it up as another hard-fought victory in a century-old rivalry. Wisconsin's size inside helped the Badgers overcome a sloppy, poor-shooting day on the road.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Not quite four minutes into the second half, Wisconsin found itself in the middle of a muddy street fight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon.

Marquette had opened the half with a 7-0 run to cut Wisconsin's 10-point halftime cushion to 25-22, thanks in part to the bigger Badgers missing a few layups and playing some lax defense.

So No. 2 Wisconsin (8-1) put it's height advantage to work on both ends, and turned to a pair of seniors for the big plays it needed to pull out a 49-38 victory over the Golden Eagles (4-4).

Following a Marquette timeout, Wisconsin got three offensive rebounds off missed jumpers on the ensuing possession before Josh Gasser sank his third triple of the game to stop the slide. The Badger defense also went to work, forcing the Golden Eagles into a four-minute stretch without a field goal.

Senior Frank Kaminsky sank a midrange jumper next, then tipped the ball loose from Steve Taylor, Jr. for a steal. After a Kaminksy miss, that Sam Dekker tipped in, UW's center stuffed Juan Anderson for one of his three blocks on the day to help maintain a nine-point lead.

Despite it's worst offensive output of the year thus far, the bigger Badgers out-rebounded Marquette 41-28 and prevented the Golden Eagle guards from converting any easy baskets near the hoop.

Later, Marquette would creep within two points, at the 8:57 mark, before Gasser fourth and final three-pointer stretched the lead back to 38-33. Kaminsky's dagger three-pointer to go ahead 47-38 with under a minute to play assured victory in Wisconsin's first game against new Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Gasser finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Kaminsky notched his third double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.

Kaminsky and Gasser's timely plays helped the Badgers overcome a season-low 32.7 percent shooting performance. Wisconsin launched 30 three-point attempts against Marquette's 2-3 zone and hit only eight (26.7%).

Unable to finish any drives inside against Wisconsin's overpowering size, Marquette fared even worse, hitting just 13-of-45 (28.9%) shots on its home court. BYU transfer Matt Carlino provided the only offensive spark for Wojo's crew, making 6-of-11 from the floor, including three treys, for a game-high 18 points.

It looked a little strange to see Marquette try to slow down the tempo and play at a more "Wisconsin-like" pace, but it did successfully keep the Golden Eagles in the game. However, it bogged down the flow of the game and allowed Wisconsin's height to become the difference in a game where each possession was magnified.

Wisconsin was able to attack the zone defense early using sophomore Nigel Hayes as the initiator on the high post. He made some nice reads that led to easy buckets for teammates, but also turned the ball over several times against the scrappy hands of the Marquette defense. This was a common sight in the first half for Bo Ryan's team, which committed seven of its 11 turnovers before the break.

But Hayes also had back-to-back blocks during a seven-minute, 10-possession scoreless stretch by Marquette that helped UW build a 17-10 lead.

The offense also had success when finding Kaminsky in the short corner. Getting out to a lead in the first half was important for the Badgers, who missed plenty of shots -- often badly -- from the outside. Wisconsin grabbed 20 rebounds, nine offensive, in the first half compared to Marquette's 11. Dekker, who started despite a lingering ankle injury, had five of those, but once again appeared very tentative for most of the game.

Traevon Jackson, Bronson Koenig and Duje Dukan combined to shoot 2-for-16 behind the arc, although Jackson did make 3-of-5 inside the arc. Wisconsin is shooting 33.9 percent on the season from three-point land, down from 37.6 percent a year ago.

As expected, Ben Brust has been missed.

With the win, Bo Ryan moves to 8-6 against Marquette as UW's head coach. Wisconsin returns to the Cream City Wednesday night when it takes on UW-Milwaukee in its next outing.