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Klesmit's fast start, Wisconsin's rebounding helps Badgers beat No. 3 Marquette 75-64

Marquette Wisconsin Basketball
Posted at 9:51 AM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-05 10:55:01-05

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Max Klesmit scored all 21 of his points before halftime, Steven Crowl added 16 and Wisconsin capitalized on its rebounding superiority to beat No. 3 Marquette 75-64 on Saturday.

Wisconsin (6-2) beat Marquette (6-2) for a third straight season in this in-state rivalry between schools separated by just 79 miles. This marks the first three-game winning streak for either team in the 130-game series since the Badgers won four straight from 1998-2001.

After trailing by 16 in the closing seconds of the first half, Marquette went on a 17-2 run to get the margin down to one with 14:46 left in the game. But the Golden Eagles never could grab the lead and failed to make a basket for more than seven minutes at one point in the second half, enabling Wisconsin to regain its double-digit advantage.

Marquette cut the lead to 67-62 on a Tyler Kolek 3-pointer with 3:52 left, but the Golden Eagles got no closer the rest of the way.

Kam Jones scored 19 and Kolek added 11 for Marquette. AJ Storr had 13 and Tyler Wahl 10 for Wisconsin, which outrebounded the Golden Eagles 38-23 and outscored them 18-2 in second-chance points.

Klesmit had never scored more than 19 points in a game since transferring from Wofford to Wisconsin before the start of last season. He shot 6 of 9 overall on Saturday, 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 on free-throw attempts.

His big first half helped Wisconsin take a 46-33 lead at the break. Klesmit's career scoring high is 27 points, something he did twice at Wofford.

Jones sank a 3-pointer with two seconds left and made another to start the second half and spark a Marquette comeback. Wisconsin's lead was down to one with 14:46 remaining.

Jones missed a 3-pointer that would have given Marquette its first lead with just under 12 minutes left. The margin was still at one with about 11 minutes remaining before Wisconsin went on a 10-2 spurt to regain a double-digit edge.

AJ Storr capped the spurt by driving past Chase Ross, dunking and drawing a foul for a 3-point play that made it 65-55 with 5:37 left. Marquette had two points and no baskets for a stretch that lasted just over seven minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles keep digging themselves into early holes during these annual matchups with Wisconsin. They trailed by 16 early in the second half last year but rallied to take the lead before Wisconsin ultimately survived 80-77 in overtime. Marquette nearly erased a 16-point deficit again Saturday but ended up paying for its poor start.

Wisconsin: The Badgers seemed on the verge of blowing an opportunity for a signature win when their lead shrank amid a flurry of turnovers early in the second half. But they regained their poise, played exceptional defense and earned their first win over a top-five team since a 74-69 victory at No. 3 Purdue on Jan. 3, 2022. Wisconsin maintained it lead despite shooting 0 for 7 from 3-point range in the second half.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Marquette likely will drop a couple of spots, but could remain in the top five on Monday. Wisconsin didn't get a single vote in this week's AP Top 25 poll, so it will take a big leap for the Badgers to make it into the rankings based on this victory.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Hosts Texas on Wednesday in a Big East/Big 12 Battle matchup. Marquette coach Shaka Smart coached Texas from 2015-21.

Wisconsin: Opens its Big Ten schedule by visiting Michigan State on Tuesday.