No. 4 Wisconsin visits Marquette in key intrastate rivalry

NCAA Basketball

Wisconsin reserve forward Tyler Wahl amassed 11 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in a home rout of Green Bay Tuesday. He did so in 20 minutes — or about the length of a sitcom episode.

“For a while there, it was the Tyler Wahl show,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said, “but that’s the potential he has. He’s very versatile and athletic. Plus, the experience he gained last year has done him wonders.”

A sophomore, Wahl doesn’t start for the Badgers, yet he earned his first career double-double to help lead No. 4 Wisconsin (3-0), which will look to keep rolling Friday when it visits in-state rival Marquette at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

“It’s great having guys like that coming off the bench to give a team energy,” Badgers forward Micah Potter said.

Developing that depth bodes well for Wisconsin, which has won its first three games of the season and 11 consecutive games overall. The Badgers will encounter a Marquette team coming off its first loss of the season Tuesday, a 70-62 setback against visiting Oklahoma State.

The Golden Eagles (2-1) struggled to locate good looks against the Cowboys’ zone, shooting 8-for-31 in the second half, including 3-for-15 from 3-point range.

“Our offense was anemic,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said.

After handling Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Eastern Illinois with ease to begin the season, Marquette encountered its first roadblock.

Koby McEwen, a senior guard, helped keep Marquette afloat with 21 points and effective defense against 6-foot-7 Cowboys freshman Cade Cunningham, a prospective No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Given the way the Badgers are clicking in the early going — albeit against foes from non-power conferences — the young Golden Eagles realize another sizable challenge is afoot.

“It’s a different level,” Wojciechowski said. “And for most of our team in a Marquette uniform, it’s the biggest game that they’ve played and played meaningful minutes and had significant roles. And so we knew there were going to be some growing pains.”

Marquette committed 24 turnovers and has 53 in three games.

“Sloppy play,” Wojciechowski said.

Still, the Golden Eagles are hopeful about a jelling rotation, which welcomed guard Dexter Akanno to the mix Tuesday after the redshirt freshman missed the first two games due to a COVID-19-related illness.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, has flashed its experience and depth. Five players finished in double figures against Green Bay, with Potter scoring 14 points to lead the team in scoring for the second time in three games.

Frontcourt mate Nate Reuvers provided an effective complement, scoring 13 points.

“We’ve been working on our play together all offseason,” Potter said. “We really want to use our height advantage with two big guys, and because we can both shoot, it opens the paint up for us. It’s something we’re starting to get more and more comfortable with.”

Reuvers also registered a block to give him 151 in his career, three behind all-time program leader Ethan Happ.

Wisconsin defeated visiting Marquette 77-61 in last season’s meeting and leads the all-time series 68-58. The Badgers’ 16-point margin of victory against the Golden Eagles was their largest since 1998.

–Field Level Media

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