Nathan HartungA defining characteristic of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team this season has been its ability to adapt to the situation at hand whether it be a defensive battle or a shootout.It was no different Saturday afternoon when Wisconsin (10-0) found itself locked in a physical battle with in-state rival Marquette (5-4) at the Kohl Center.No matter how the season has gone for Marquette and Wisconsin before they meet, the I-94 rivalry game can be depended on to be a dogfight as the Badgers’ 6-6 record against the Golden Eagles under Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan would suggest.“You can look at any rivalry and it’s always going to be a possession game,” Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. “Stylistically how we play and how they play is always going to balance out and it always comes down to loose balls and first to the floor and 50-50 balls and offensive rebounds, put backs and-ones. It boils down to ‘how tough are you?’”When looking for a model of toughness, Wisconsin’s players need look no further than their four-year starter and guard battling back from ACL surgery Josh Gasser.Ryan agreed when asked about where his team’s toughness started in its matchup with Marquette answering simply “Josh Gasser.”“The guys saw what he went through last year and you can’t tell me there isn’t a guy in that locker room that didn’t take notice of the hours and the discipline that Josh put in,” Ryan said. “We got some other guys out there that have a lot of grit, but you have to start somewhere and that’s where it starts.”The combination of physicality and the new defensive rule implemented by the NCAA this year made for a lot of foul calls and consequently foul trouble for both teams.“We’re working at it,” Gasser said of adjusting to the new rules. “Some games are different than others. You just have play with the way it’s going. We never really used our hands on defense, coach teaches it that way … You just have to really concentrate sometimes and stick to what we do.”By the time 10 minutes had gone by in the first half, a total of 12 fouls had been called, seven of which went on Marquette, putting Wisconsin in the bonus with still 10 minutes to play in the opening half.Things started to get dicey for the Badgers when both of their big men, Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky, picked up their second personal fouls within six seconds of each other. This forced Ryan to sub in junior forward Evan Anderson and fifth year senior forward Zach Bohannon, who had played a combined total of just five minutes coming into Saturday’s game.“I thought Evan and Zach did a great job of not letting it slip away,” Ryan said. “We were not in a hole when we were down those last three or four minutes. We were hanging tough.”But Anderson’s opportunity was short lived as he picked up three fouls in more than two minutes of play which put him back on the bench in favor of Bohannon.Wisconsin was able to limit their foul calls in the second half picking up just six, while penalties continued to be a problem for the Golden Eagles in the second half, getting called for 13 fouls with two players, Jake Thomas and Juan Anderson, fouling out.As time began to wind down in the second half, the intensity ratcheted up resulting in a quicker tempo and several loose balls. With hustle plays highlighted by Gasser and Traevon Jackson, Wisconsin gained the edge.“50-50 balls are what we pride ourselves on and what we always want to get,” Gasser said. “Loose balls and even rebounds we consider 50-50 balls, so we want to come up with most of those. Just those plays can really turn the tide of a game and it was good that we got a few of those and then limited theirs. I think that was a big point to the game.”The Badgers were able to weather their foul trouble and win the battle of toughness with Marquette, giving them their 10th-straight win of the season in a game that lived up to the billing of the I-94 rivalry.“That’s why they’re 94-7 in November and December. They’re not beating themselves, you have to beat them,” Williams said. “The last two years, what was the difference? You could say it was our will. You could say today it was their will. It wasn’t tactical.”
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Griffin finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Crawford, who had just seven points in Game 2 on 2-of-13 shooting, still did not shoot well. He was 6 of 18, but he had 20 points in part because he was 7 of 7 from the free-throw line. Chris Paul had 21 points and 16 assists, Matt Barnes scored 14 and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.“Blake was efficient, we got him in the right spots,” Rivers said.As for OKC coach Scott Brooks, he had nothing but high marks for his team. Esepcially its toughness in a game that featured five technical fouls – three on his team, two on the Clippers.“One thing I’ve always said is we’re a very competitive team,” he said.Durant led everyone with 36 points, Westrbook had 23 points and 13 assists and Serge Ibaka scored 20.“Russell was really good,” Brooks said. “He had control and command of the game.”Westbrook also had eight rebounds, leaving him two shy of a triple-double.Griffin got it going right away, scoring the first five points of the game on two free throws, a basket and another free throw. DeAndre Jordan made it 7-0 when he took a lob and powered down a monster slam dunk. After Serge Ibaka and Durant scored consecutive baskets, Griffin had a layup for a 9-4 lead.Ibaka hit a 15-footer, but there was the aggressive Griffin again, getting fouled and making two more free throws for an 11-6 Clippers cushion.Durant began to heat up not long after. His team trailing 14-8, he buried a 3-pointer and came back with a dunk to pull his team within 14-13.With the Clippers still ahead by just point, Griffin made a 15-footer, Durant responding with two free throws.Consecutive blocks by Griffin on Kendrick Perkins and Matt Barnes on Westbrook brought the fans out of their seats. Their joy was short-lived as Durant threw down yet another resounding dunk for a 19-18 Thunder lead.Paul came back with a 16-footer for a 20-19 L.A. advantage, but Mr. Dunk – AKA Durant – had another with 2:42 left in the quarter and OKC led 21-20.Back and forth the teams went. A 3-pointer by Paul and two free throws by Griffin, and the Clippers were up 25-21. No problem, said the Thunder, who quickly tied the game on a put-back dunk by Steven Adams and layup by Westbrook.The Clippers ended up with a 33-29 lead at the end of one quarter. That was quickly erased by Caron Butler, who sank an 18-footer then three consecutive free throws.OKC eventually built a five-point lead at 46-41 with 5:59 to play in the half. The Thunder still led by five at 48-43 when the Clippers went on an 8-0. That onslaught was finished by a steal and driving left-handed dunk by Barnes that filled the arena with as much electricity as it had seen thus far in the game. The Clippers led 51-48 at the 3:36 mark.Griffin scored his only points of the second quarter with two minutes left to gives his team a 55-52 lead. Then, at the 1:43 mark, Durant and Paul received double technicals.OKC took a 59-57 lead on a layup by Westbrook, Barnes made a 3-pointer, Westbrook scored and Paul sent his team into the locker room with a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left for a 63-61 lead.The Clippers, who at one time were shooting in the 35-percent area, ended up shooting 46.8 percent from the field in the half. They shot 40 percent – 5 of 15 – from 3-point range.However, the Thunder shot 54.8 percent overll and outrebounded the Clippers 23-15. The rebounding was a problem for the Clippers in Game 2. Reggie Jackson then – for all intents and purposes – sealed the Clippers’ fate with two free throws for a 115-107 lead with 22.7 seconds left. J.J. Redick, who did not have a good game, made a 3-pointer with five seconds to play to pull the Clippers within 116-112, but that was as close as they would get.OKC leads the Western Conference semifinals series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.“Our defense, I didn’t think it was there,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, when asked the difference in the game. “They shot over 50 percent (55.7), we didn’t (the Clippers shot 45.2 percent). They made every big play down the stretch.”Rivers took a lot of the blame for his team’s defense, saying he has to coach it better.“We put way too much presssure on our offense,” he said. The Oklahoma City Thunder had two big things going for them in a Game 2 victory Wednesday over the Clippers in Oklahoma City – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Clippers were missing a couple of things – such as the typically outstanding play of Blake Griffin and the solid bench contribution of Jamal Crawford, who just won his second Sixth-Man of the Year award.The Clippers, it seemed, needed to find a way to turn some of that around in order to give themselves a better shot to win Game 3 on Friday.They indeed turned some of it around, but they still lost. Courtesy of some clutch play down the stretch by that two-headed monster that is Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder defeated the Clippers 118-112 before 19,530 at Staples Center.Griffin, who scored just 15 points on Wednesday, had just pulled the Clippers within 108-107 with a layup with 2:30 to play. Back came the Thunder, and Westbrook hit a 3-pointer for a 111-107 lead. The Clippers could not score their next time down, and then Durant made an incredible 18-foot turn-around over Chris Paul for a 113-107 lead with 1:23 left.