MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, unranked AP) likes a slow-tempo game, and Marquette (unranked, No. 25) loves to run. So it stood to reason that a game played in the 50s and 60s would go the Badgers' way.
But Wisconsin couldn't stop Jerel McNeal, who scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half to power Marquette to a 61-58 comeback victory over its in-state rival Saturday night.
"We showed everybody on a very big stage that when we play the right way, when we're play together, we can be a very good team," McNeal said.
McNeal might have been talking teamwork afterward, but the Golden Eagles probably wouldn't have been celebrating their second straight victory over the Badgers without his effort.
With Marquette (7-1) trailing early in the second half, McNeal led a 12-5 run to tie the game at 46. Soon after, McNeal hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:26 left.
"They do that to teams," Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft said. "And the last five minutes, they did it to us."
And it wasn't like McNeal had it easy. Krabbenhoft said the Badgers (6-2) did everything they could to stop him, pulling defensive switches and constantly getting a hand in his face.
"He was making tough shots," Krabbenhoft said.
Meanwhile, Badgers coach Bo Ryan noted that his team had a late stretch of two points over nine possessions.
"That hurts," Ryan said.
Despite Wisconsin's interior size advantage, the Golden Eagles outrebounded the Badgers 21-14 in the second half.
"They attacked the glass as hard as I've seen anybody attack the glass, and we've got to match that," Krabbenhoft said.
After taking the lead on McNeal's 3-pointer, the Golden Eagles managed to hold on despite their shaky free-throw shooting down the stretch and another round of late scoring from Wisconsin guard Trevon Hughes.
Hughes scored 14 points to lead the Badgers, who came into Saturday's game smarting from a recent lopsided loss to Connecticut. But Wisconsin had momentum after beating Virginia Tech on Hughes' last-second layup Monday night.
Hughes' 3-pointer cut Marquette's lead to 58-54 with 1:20 left in the game. An errant Marquette pass then dribbled out of bounds to Wisconsin, but Krabbenhoft stepped on the baseline on the other end to give the ball back to Marquette.
"If a guy has a foot a half a size smaller, who knows?," Ryan said. "At least we get a shot."
But Marquette's free-throw woes assured that the adventure wasn't over.
Lazar Hayward hit one of his two free throws, then Hughes hit a layup to cut the lead to 59-56 with 25.9 seconds left. Maurice Acker and Hayward each hit only one of their two free-throw attempts in the final 22 seconds, but the Golden Eagles held on to win.
The Badgers, who average just over 22 free-throw attempts per game, shot only 13 to Marquette's 23 on Saturday. But Marquette didn't capitalize on its advantage, shooting 60.9 percent from the line for the game.
Marquette trailed 33-27 at the half. But with Hughes in foul trouble and sitting out early in the second half, the Golden Eagles went on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 46 with just over 10 minutes left in the game -- with all 12 points coming from McNeal, who scored a total of 14 points in a row for Marquette.
McNeal later hit a 3-pointer to put Marquette ahead 52-49 -- the Golden Eagles' first lead since the 13:48 mark of the first half.
Hayward then scored on a putback, and Ryan called a timeout. Moments later, Hughes lost the ball and Marquette called a timeout in the scrum -- and Hughes fouled McNeal on the other end, allowing the Golden Eagles to extend their lead to 56-49.
Marcus Landry then hit a layup at the 2:18 mark, breaking a six-minute scoreless streak for the Badgers. But despite two more clutch shots from Hughes, the Badgers didn't have another Virginia Tech-style comeback in them.
Wisconsin leads the series between the schools 62-53. ... Hayward had a career-high 13 rebounds.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report