Wisconsin was able to outlast in-state rival Marquette 70-64 on Saturday at the packed Kohl Center because they have more firepower.
Although the No. 8 Badgers (10-0) and Golden Eagles (5-4) differ in the standings by a few games, they can both really defend and limit opportunities for their opponents to get good looks, but the stark contrast in the two comes in Wisconsin’s offensive firepower.
This isn’t the Bo Ryan basketball of methodical pace and layups.
This year’s Badgers have a lineup full of shot-makers and with the emergence of Frank Kaminsky at center, the steady guard-play of veterans Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser and Ben Brust and the overall play of sophomore forward Sam Dekker, this Wisconsin team can really put up points.
Dekker had 20 points, 10 rebounds and a memorable dunk down the lane against Marquette and his ability to score in any way possible makes Wisconsin particularly lethal. This Wisconsin group can not only defend, they can score with the best of them now.
Marquette struggled to generate consistent offense once again and although the score is close, Jamil Wilson got hot from the perimeter late and Juan Anderson and Devante Gardner also hit tough contested perimeter jumpers after the offense struggled much of the day.
Without Todd Mayo, who was sitting out due to a violation of team rules, the Golden Eagles had a hard time finding a go-to player that could create a shot and score or get to the line.
Buzz Williams and Marquette deserve credit for staying in the game, but they need someone to step in and become the leader on offense.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.