Photo/Mary Langfield USA TODAY Sports
Sam Dekker was all smiles after posting the second double-double of his career.
Dekker stands tall
By TONY CARTAGENA
MADISON – Following this very same rivalry game last season Sam Dekker felt overwhelmed with defeat.
Literally – Wisconsin lost to Marquette 60-50 – but also defeated on a mental, physical and emotional level. As Dekker put it the Badgers played “soft” and let the hostile Golden Eagles’ crowd get into their head.
That was last year.
This time when the University of Wisconsin tipped off against Marquette, Dekker was the aggressor. Recording his second career double-double, Dekker’s 20-point and 10 rebound performance led the Badgers in both categories and helped propel them to a 70-64 victory.
“This one felt pretty good,” he said. “Especially after what they did to us last year, and handled us pretty good. They had bragging rights for the whole year.
“I was pretty aggressive and pretty efficient tonight.”
Dekker came out of the gates crashing the boards hard, snatching three of the Badgers first five rebounds and finishing the half with six.
However, he was not shooting much. In the first 10 minutes Dekker had only attempted two shots.
“I had a lot of opportunities (early) that I gave up or passed up and (Traveon Jackson) came up to me and said, ‘how many shots have you taken today?’ I said ‘one’ and he told me, ‘you’re too good for that, you’ve got to be more aggressive and go out there and assert yourself.’
“After (Jackson) told me that I kind of went on and did that.”
With under a minute left in the opening session Dekker put an exclamation point on his early performance. Starting at the top of the key he took one blow-by dribble right, gathered himself and exploded for a two-handed tomahawk dunk.
Dekker finished the game shooting 7-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-5 from distance.
The Badgers frontcourt found themselves in foul trouble early. Frank Kaminsky sat most of the first half with two fouls, forcing Nigel Hayes, Evan Anderson and Zach Bohannon to get involved in the action. With the different lineups on the floor Dekker was forced into positions where he had to guard Marquette giants Davante Gardner and Chris Otule.
Without hesitation the 220-pound sophomore threw his weight around down low and did an admirable job guarding much bigger opposition.
“From a talent perspective I think Sam Dekker is really, really good,” Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said post-game. “(He plays) a lot of different ways, can guard multiple guys, plays extremely hard and understands how to play fundamentally.
“I think he is great.”
In the past three games Dekker has corralled 27 total rebounds and committed just three fouls.
“We were much tougher today in comparison to last year against Marquette,” Dekker added. “We kind of dictated a lot of things. They played a good game, that’s a good team they got there. You’ve got to credit them for making us work and giving us a good ball game.”