MADISON — No. 23 Wisconsin used a pair of second half runs to pull away from in-state rival Marquette for an 89-76 win on Saturday at the Kohl Center.
Player of the Game: Johnny Davis
The Badgers thought Davis would make a big jump from his freshman to sophomore season but he has done much more than that. Instead of a jump, he’s taken an astronomical leap, going from role player to absolute star. Davis showed it again Saturday, dropping 25 points on the Golden Eagles and doing it by hitting tough shot after tough shot. He was 9-for-14 from the field and nearly half were contested jumpers in and around the lane. Eleven of the points came in a 28-15 run that turned a tie game into a Wisconsin blowout win.
“His ability to create space, get to his shot, he can score at all three levels,” Wisconsin’s Brad Davison said. “In my opinion, he’s one of the best scorers in the country. He has shown that night in and night out. As some of his teammates, me and Chucky (Hepburn), we just get out of the way sometimes and let him do his thing.
Hepburn was more to the point.
“Sometimes it’s get Johnny the ball and get the ‘F’ out of the way,” the freshman said.
Davis added five rebounds and one assist in 30 minutes of action.
The good: Davison
A few days after putting Wisconsin on his back in a win at Georgia Tech, the Badgers senior delivered another great effort, especially in some key moments.
Marquette had cut Wisconsin’s lead to 61-53 with about eight minutes left and had all the momentum. That was until Davison came curling off a screen and launched a 3-pointer from the corner. It went down and he hit one two possessions later as the Badgers took back control of the game.
“He had four 3s, but there was a few of them that were just back breakers,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “Because he’s getting the shots we exactly talked about we don’t want him to get. He’s a tough guy to guard, too.”
Davison finished with 20 points and four rebounds. It was his third 20-plus point performance this season after having two all last year.
The not so good: Interior scoring
At one point in the first half the Badgers were 2-for-11 on 2-point shots and 0-for-5 on layups. The failure to finish inside could largely be tied to Tyler Wahl, who was just 2-for-9 from the floor in the game. Wisconsin was better in the second half and ended up 8-for-15 on layups.
Stat of the Game: 70.4%
That is what Wisconsin shot from the field in the second half. It included the starters going 16-for-22.
— Freshman Chucky Hepburn had his best all around game of the season. He set career highs for points (15) and assists (6), while also posting three steals.
“I thought he played like a vet,” Davis said of Hepburn in his first time playing in the rivalry. “He was really calm and composed and defensively he was all over them. That’s what we need.”
— Wisconsin’s 89 points were the second-most it has scored in the 128-game series against Marquette. The only time the Badgers have scored more was when they dropped 94 in a win in 2016. The victory pushed Wisconsin’s all-time record against the Golden Eagles to 69-59.
— The 55 points Wisconsin had in the second half was the most after halftime since the 2015 NCAA Regional Final game against Arizona.
Wisconsin (7-1) opens Big Ten play Wednesday at home against Indiana