December 05, 2014

Wisconsin's toughest test of the early season revealed its susceptibility to a hot-shooting team.

It might be the Badgers who are in for a big day against a Marquette defense that's prone to letting opponents light it up.

Second-ranked Wisconsin hopes to have Sam Dekker available as it looks to get back to its defensive principles Saturday against rival Marquette at Milwaukee's Bradley Center.

"People, athletes in general, say rivalry games are just another game," Golden Eagles senior Derrick Wilson said. "But at the end of the day, it's more than that. Being the two high majors in Wisconsin, basketball is a pretty big sport here. It's important to a lot of people from Marquette and Wisconsin."

It'll be particularly important to the Badgers (7-1) to make a statement on the defensive end. Wisconsin came into Wednesday's game against No. 4 Duke allowing opponents to shoot 37.1 percent while yielding just 50.6 points per game, but the Blue Devils blew up what had been some typically good Badgers defending.

Duke shot 65.2 percent from the field, 58.3 percent from behind the arc and outscored Wisconsin 32-22 in the paint en route to an 80-70 victory in Madison. No team has posted a better shooting percentage versus a top-5 team since Feb. 27, 2005, when Kansas converted 66.0 percent against No. 4 Oklahoma State.

Allowing No. 1 Ohio State to shoot 68.1 percent in March 2011 was the Badgers' only worse performance in the Bo Ryan era.

"I would say they hit some tough shots, but they have good enough players that can do that at times," Ryan said. "To have as many do it on the same night, that's just not fair. I don't care what anybody says, they were lights out."

Traevon Jackson led the way for the Badgers with 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting, but he also wasn't happy with the way Wisconsin defended.

"Some shots that they got, they were just too comfortable, and we have to do a better job of making adjustments on the fly," Jackson said. "Credit to them. They hit some really tough shots, but like I said we got to do a better job with adjustments."

That'll be much easier if Dekker can go. Dekker, who's been bothered by a nagging ankle injury, had five points against Duke - his third time in five games with five or fewer - and is considered a game-time decision.

"He didn't practice much this week," Ryan said. "He was limited on his reps ... When he's ready, then he can get more minutes."

Marquette (4-3) certainly wouldn't mind if he can't go. Dekker had 20 points and 10 boards in last season's game to help the Badgers avoid a third straight loss in this series with a 70-64 win.

Even if he's sidelined, the Badgers might have a better time offensively against the Golden Eagles, who have allowed their opponents to shoot 49.7 percent - one of the two worst marks among the 86 power-conference teams in Division I.

Marquette, though, comes into this one off perhaps its most complete game of the season. It shot a season-best 53.5 percent and held Tennessee to 43.3 percent shooting Sunday in a 67-59 win in the Orlando Classic third-place game.

Freshman guard Duane Wilson had a breakout performance against the Volunteers, scoring 30 points while hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

The Golden Eagles' concerns, though, probably won't be on the perimeter Saturday. Marquette was outrebounded 39-22 against Tennessee and has a minus-8.1 average rebound differential, easily the worst of any team from a major conference.

With Frank Kaminsky leading the way with 8.8 per game, Wisconsin is outrebounding opponents by 7.1 per game.

Duke edged the Badgers 28-27 on the glass in a game that caught the attention of one Blue Devils alumnus - Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski.

"We've studied Wisconsin," Wojciechowski said. "Look, they're as good as anyone out there in the United States. They present problems in a whole host of areas.

"(But) we'll be ready to fight come Saturday afternoon."

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