MADISON - Against Green Bay earlier in the week, Wisconsin forward Jon Leuer's career high 26 points went relatively unnoticed in a disappointing loss. On Saturday against in-state rival Marquette, the junior delivered an encore performance, this time in a 72-63 win.
With a superb 9-of-14 shooting display Leuer was able to log a game high 24 points. But his start may have been even more impressive than his final tally.
In the early going, Leuer connected on each of his first four attempts and helped the Badgers storm out to an early 31-14 lead.
"I think he's a pro," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said following the game. "His length, his skill set, his intelligence level is a really, really hard match-up."
With his 12 rebounds in the game, it was the second time during the course of the week that Leuer has reached 20-point scoring and double-digit rebounds, marking the first time in his career that he's pulled of the feat in back-to-back games.
But it wasn't just Leuer that led Wisconsin to victory, it was his team's collective effort defensively and hot shooting start that allowed UW to jump on Marquette and never look back.
"Anytime you can jump on a team like we did tonight, it helps," Leuer said. "The main thing was we were executing better than we did at Green Bay. We were able to force them into some tough shots.
"I thought defensively we played pretty well. We had some lapses in there, but for the most part we had them take some tough shots and anytime you're doing that, you give yourself a good chance to be successful."
Entering the game, Marquette may have had more speed on the perimeter than the Badgers, but UW was bigger inside and that was one of the deciding factors in the game.
By the end, Wisconsin scored 18 points in the paint compared to Marquette's 10. They forced the Golden Eagles to settle for long shots and held them to 41.2 percent shooting from the floor and an even worse 38.9 percent mark from distance.
"I think we got back to playing defense the way we know we can play defense," sophomore Jordan Taylor, who chipped in 13 points, three rebounds and three assists, said. "We still had some lapses when Darius Johnson-Odom hit three three's in probably two minutes and Lazar Hayward hit a couple of threes in a row, but for the most part we did a decent job playing defense.
The Badgers also forced Marquette into committing 13 turnovers while only dishing six assists throughout the afternoon. Meanwhile, the Badgers only coughed the ball up on seven occasions, marking the second lowest turnover tally of the season to this point.
"If we're turning it over like we did at Green Bay obviously we're coming out on the short end of this," Bo Ryan said after collecting his 200th career victory at Wisconsin. "If we turned it over any more times against Duke we're coming out on the short end. You got to take care of the ball. That gives you a chance to get things done."
Following UW's early jump on Marquette, the Golden Eagles settled into their game plan and started playing in a more suitable manner as the first half came to a close and into the final 20 minutes.
They cut the UW lead down to five before the half was over and eventually to three late in the ball game.
But every time Marquette came at UW, the Badgers were a bit stronger and willed the lead back to a comfortable margin.
"There tends to be some of that give and take and I'm glad that we started out the way we did to have that kind of a cushion to absorb what they brought at us and then be able to turn around and give something back at the end," Ryan said. "Give back meaning us separating a little bit.
"They gave the best they could give and we gave the best we could give and this is how this one turned out."
Marquette was led in scoring by Lazar Hayward who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Wisconsin had three double-digit scorers in Leuer, Taylor and Trevon Hughes, who chipped in 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Quotes from the post-game press conference:
-Buzz Williams on what set Marquette back in the early going:
"Our guys were excited to play. Everybody was excited to be here and we didn't handle the excitement in the right way initially, and then I thought from that point on, I thought we were fine. Not to say that we should have won, that's not what I'm saying at all, but you can't play from behind against a great team. That's not necessarily behind with four minutes left, but behind four minutes into the game."
-Bo Ryan on his 200th career win as Wisconsin head coach:
"It's pretty exciting from the standpoint to believe that I could get back here as a head coach and get a chance to be on the court and direct traffic here so to speak for this being the ninth year. I'm a pretty lucky guy. But you've got to remember that I didn't make a basket in those 200 and I haven't guarded anyone in those 200. The players, I've told them in the locker room that they tend to put it to a name. But I'd like to put it to the names of all the players because they were here for me, and the assistants and everybody else.
"But boy am I lucky. I am."
-Trevon Hughes on realizing that Jon Leuer was on:
"The game plan was to get him to the post. Marquette's first losses were against Florida State and North Carolina State, and they were losing early on in the game because they were taking bad shots. Jon was hitting some tough shots and at the same time he was getting them into decent foul trouble. We had the size advantage and we wanted to take advantage of that. That was our plan all week."
-Jordan Taylor on the mindset of the team when it was up 17 points early:
"We're thinking we need to put them away, but obviously at this level and especially with a team like that, they have some good players over there obviously, and we knew they were going to make a run. We sustained it, we could have done a little bit of a better job. I think we were up 65-54 just like the Duke game, late in the game with four minutes and we let them back in it again.
"I still think we have to get better at putting teams away and making shots down the stretch and make free-throws. But we still came out on the left-hand side which is what's important."
-Bo Ryan became just the third head coach to record 200 career wins at Wisconsin. He joins Walter Meanwell and Bud Foster as the only other coach to reach the plateau. And in reaching the mark in his first 275 games (200-75 record), he became the second fastest to reach it. Meanwell did it in 261 games.
-Wisconsin improves to 63-53 all-time against Marquette and 37-15 against them at home. UW has won 12 of the past 14 home games against Marquette.
-UW has scored 70 or more points in five consecutive games and six out of nine tries this season. UW is 5-1 on the year when reaching that mark.
-The Badgers attempted 33 free throws in Saturday's win. For the season, UW has shot at least 25 free throws in four games. Under Ryan, UW is 77-8 when shooting 25 or more shots from the line in a game.
-Jordan Taylor has recorded at least three assists in five straight games this season.
-With his 13-point effort, Trevon Hughes is now only nine points shy of becoming the eight player under Ryan to reach the 1,000-point club.
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