Is Marquette the best team in the state of Wisconsin?
For the first time in a long time, it’s a question worth pondering. Steve Wojciechowski and the Golden Eagles entered the Kohl Center on Saturday with plans to shake up the pecking order and not only traded blows with the Badgers, but played like the better team for long stretches in a 57-55 victory.
Rice Lake, Wisconsin native Henry Ellenson, Marquette’s former five-star freshman, put on a show against Wisconsin with timely putbacks, good interior passing and this great coast-to-coast runner with his off hand.
Henry Ellenson coast to coast. He’s right handed by the way. https://t.co/vgQDVmwG2N
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) December 12, 2015
Ellenson led Marquette with 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while Luke Fischer had 12 points and eight rebounds. Offensively those two carried the load and helped Marquette dominate the points in the paint battle 36-16.
Even former Wisconsin star Sam Dekker had to weigh in:
Ellenson is tough. Been a gym rat his whole life. Was always running around on the court with us in the AAU days with @wallyellenson
— Sam Dekker (@dekker) December 12, 2015
The Marquette coaches had a great game plan for containing Nigel Hayes (10 points on 4-for-18 shooting) and disrupting Wisconsin’s offensive flow. They seemingly had answers for everything Wisconsin tried, everything except for Vitto Brown. Brown’s play was one of the few highlights for the Badgers, a team that just looks lost right now.
In Bo Ryan’s first 14 years, the Badgers only lost 8 games at home to non-conference opponents. Through 11 games in 2015-16, Wisconsin has lost three; Western Illinois, Milwaukee, Marquette. It’s also the first back-to-back non-conference home losses in the Bo Ryan era.
The victory marks seven straight wins for Marquette and gives the team a great quality win heading into conference play. Where the Golden Eagles fall in the Big East is yet to be determined, but seeing Ellenson and Fischer play some of their best ball against the toughest opponent (so far) of the year is a great sign moving forward.