December 5, 2008

UW will be tested on perimeter

MADISON, Wis. - Everyone on the Wisconsin men's basketball team, except maybe the freshmen, has been through the grind long enough. They know what the guards from Marquette bring as well as how much that trio wants to beat Wisconsin in the annual UW-Marquette rivalry.

Senior guards Wesley Matthews, a Madison native, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James present one of the most difficult trio's of guards not only in the Big East Conference, but the nation.

"They really know how to play one on one basketball and team basketball also," UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft said. "They can definitely beat your guy if you're not ready for it."

So far, the Golden Eagles guards have been beating their defenders at an alarming rate. Those three players alone are responsible for nearly 52 of the team's 89 average points. They all possess great quickness off the dribble and a knack to put the ball in the hoop.

"They got a lot of experience and they do the right thing," UW guard Jason Bohannon, in reference to Marquette's guards, said. "They have a great deal of quickness and they're able to make plays. That's a sign of their experience. We've just got to come in and play our game and stick to our fundamentals."

A season ago, Marquette came to the Kohl Center and beat the Badgers for the first time in what at the time was a year and a half. Leading the way was the Golden Eagles guards. Those same three players scored a combined 40 of Marquette's 81 points as it held on for a slim five-point win.

The key in slowing the attack is limiting James, who had 20 points in last season's game, on the perimeter. It will be important to prevent his dribble-drive, particularly when he decides to attack the lane. Hughes will draw the tough task of defending the Golden Eagle senior and try to match his quickness and versatility.

"I take it personally," Hughes said in reference to James' performance last season in the game. "I don't want to be too over prepared, or try to get right back at him, but I have to play my game, play a team game and stick to our concepts of good five-on-five defense.

Earlier this season, the Badgers were carved up defensively by a guard oriented Connecticut squad that proved to be just a step quicker both off the dribble and its pressure defense throughout. In total, the defense forced UW into committing 22 turnovers as the Badgers went on to lose by 19 points.

Marquette deploys a similar pressure defense and has capable, quick guards that will get up on the Badger guards. Although the Badgers have only committed 12 turnovers in the past two games, it will need to be especially smart with the ball against the Marquette guards.

"We just got to take care of the ball," Bohannon said. "Even if they're pressuring us. Just make the right reads and we got to be able to slow the game down even if it's going fast paced you've got to be able to slow the game down."

Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 central time and will be telecast live on ESPNU.

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