No. 8 Wisconsin holds off Marquette, 70-64

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Sam Dekker finished his trips into the lane with rousing dunks and burned defenders with 3s.

And after almost every bucket, Wisconsin’s energetic sophomore would turn to the crowd and pump his arms to encourage his adoring fans to get louder.

The wide-eyed Dekker had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the eighth-ranked Badgers withstood a late Marquette rally for a 70-64 victory especially cherished in Madison because it snapped a two-game losing streak in the intrastate rivalry.

Advantage Badgers this year in Dekker’s hometown of Sheboygan.

“The city’s pretty split, Marquette-Wisconsin-wise,” Dekker said. “To have a chance to get a win tonight and also play well doing that is very gratifying.”

Frank Kaminsky added 11 points, including a straightaway 3 to give Wisconsin a 60-54 lead with 1:18 left. The crucial bucket stopped a 10-2 run by Marquette that helped close an 11-point deficit.

Jamil Wilson scored 22 points, including a 3 from the wing that had drawn Marquette (5-4) within three. Kaminsky then nailed his clutch 3 for the Badgers (10-0), who are off to the best start in 20 years.

Coach Bo Ryan isn’t one to talk about streaks, but the confident Dekker doesn’t mind.

“Why can’t we win every game we go out and play,” Dekker said. “We’ve got the best coach in the business. … We expect ourselves to be perfect.”

Ben Brust added 13 points, 10 in the second half, while backcourt mate Traevon Jackson scored 12 after going 6 of 7 from the foul line after halftime.

Marquette had one last chance after 6-foot-8 Davante Gardner hit a 3 from the wing to get to 68-64 with 4 seconds left. Gardner had muscled his way to the bucket for most of his 16 points.

But the third member of Wisconsin’s solid backcourt, Josh Gasser, closed it out with two fouls shots. The Badgers were soon on their way to singing a school anthem in front of the student section to celebrate their first win over Marquette since a 69-64 victory in Milwaukee in 2010.

“One stop. I said it as soon as I got in the shower — one stop away. I said it to myself,” Wilson said. “If we would’ve got one stop, or stopped one offensive rebound, just gotten one extra defensive rebound … One stop and this game would’ve been ours.”

Gasser finished with 10 points, going 6 of 6 from the line, and sparked the Badgers with his trademark defensive intensity.

“I’ve always thought Coach Ryan’s teams were tough, and they were definitely the toughest team today,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

Dekker deserves much of the credit after puzzling the Golden Eagles with his inside-out game.

He found the 7-foot Kaminsky for a dunk off an alley-oop pass early in the second half. Kaminsky returned the favor, connecting with his teammate for an alley-oop dunk for a 48-38 lead with about 10 minutes left in the game.

Dekker proved he can score from the perimeter, too.

Gasser tracked down a loose ball and drove the lane to draw defenders, only to pass to Dekker wide open from the corner for a 3 and an 11-point lead with about 8 minutes left.

Marquette’s pretty good up front too with Gardner, the 6-foot-11 Chris Otule (11 points) and 6-foot-7 Wilson. A 3-point play by Otule off an offensive rebound got Marquette within 57-51 with 3 minutes left.

But until the late 3s from Wilson and Gardner, the Golden Eagles rarely took a shot from long range.

Marquette played without perhaps its best 3-point shooter, Todd Mayo, who practiced this week but only watched Saturday’s game from the bench for what Williams called a violation of team rules.

That helped give Wisconsin an even bigger edge in the backcourt with its savvy, dependable trio of Brust, Jackson and Gasser. Each guard makes hustle plays that Ryan loves to see — but no one more so than Gasser. The junior looks as solid and dependable as ever after missing last season with a knee injury.

“Well, you know … Josh Gasser. Now you guys are going to write that down — it’s the shortest answer I’ve ever given in the history of questions — he’s a leader,” Ryan said.

The coach was honored before the game for getting his 300th win with Wisconsin in the 48-38 victory earlier in the week over Virginia.

Another thunderous dunk from Dekker closed out the first half to give the Badgers a 28-25 lead.