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Marquette-Milwaukee preview: Golden Eagles look to rebound from Monday loss

By Matt Trebby, Marquette Tribune columinst

The closest that the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers have come to making their annual game against Marquette be considered a rivalry was last season.

With their tight win against the Panthers last year, Marquette took its record to 38-0 against Milwaukee in the all-time series. That is the second largest win total without losing against a single opponent in Division I basketball, only behind Syracuse’s 46-0 record against Colgate.

Before last year’s game at the US-Celluar Arena, senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom averaged just 12 points per game. But in that contest he posted 22 in the first half and finished with a career-high 29 points in the win.

The Golden Eagles never trailed and led by as many as 18 in the second half. But the Panthers stormed back and got within two points with 12 seconds remaining, before senior Jimmy Butler and Johnson-Odom hit four consecutive free throws to put the game out of reach, with a final score of 75-72.

This year’s Milwaukee team is, in Buzz Williams’ opinion, the best since he became head coach in 2008. He believes that Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter has the type of roster he wants, but hasn’t found the right combinations yet this year due to injuries.

“I think Coach Jeter’s roster is the way he would like it to be,” Williams said. “The problem he’s had is the rhythm.”

Milwaukee is 9-3 this season with losses to Michigan State, Northern Iowa, and Wisconsin.

“I think they’re better than 9-3,” Coach Williams said, adding, “but the problem is in those twelve games, he’s never had his complete roster.”

Because of injuries, the Panthers have six players that average at least 8.9 points.

Junior forward James Haarsma is the team’s leading rebounder and is second in scoring, averaging 7.3 rebounds and 10.1 points. Fellow forward, sophomore Kyle Kelm, averages 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting a team-high 56.7 percent from the field.

Senior forward Tony Meier averages only 21.2 minutes but averages 11.3 points and in the Panthers’ last two games against Wisconsin and Nebraska-Omaha is averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He scored all 15 of his points against the Badgers in the second half.

In the backcourt, senior Ryan Allen averages 8.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, an impressive number for the 6-foot-3 guard. Junior Ja’Rob McCallum scored a career-high 19 points against Marquette last year and this year in six games as a starter is averaging 10 points. McCallum will miss tomorrow night’s contest with a wrist injury.

The Panthers’ backcourt, and the team itself, is led by senior point guard, Kaylon Williams.

Last season, Williams filled up the stat sheet, averaging 8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. He’s continued doing so this year, with an average of 12.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.0 assists.

Johnson-Odom gave praise to Kaylon Williams, calling him “one of the better point guards in mid-major conferences.”

“He controls the game, Johnson-Odom said. “He hurt us last year, and I think he’s just one of their better players.”

The Panthers may have one of their better teams in recent memory, but they will face off against a determined Marquette team that is coming off its first loss of the season at the hands of LSU on Monday night.

Redshirt sophomore  forward Jamil Wilson said the team wasn’t putting any pressure on itself to go undefeated.

“I don’t think we even put any pressure on ourselves at all,” said Wilson. “I don’t think the guys really worried about the whole losing thing.”

Johnson-Odom had his worst outing of the young season Monday, committing six turnovers in the loss. The guard sat out the team’s previous game against Northern Colorado because due to a suspension for violating team rules.

Johnson-Odom said Marquette hadn’t played against a team as physical on defense as LSU and that drew the Golden Eagles out of their comfort zone.

“They were more aggressive on the defensive end,” Johnson-Odom said. “Pushing us out of position, which was hard for us to create our shots, and get to the free throw line and drive to the basket. We have to mature from this loss and just grow up.”

Johnson-Odom thought there were more positives than negatives that came from the loss.

This enthusiasm was shared by Wilson, who said after the team mentally moved on from the loss and started preparing for the Panthers when it returned to Milwaukee early Tuesday morning.

Marquette has lost back-to-back nonconference games in each of the past two seasons (to Florida State and North Carolina State, and to Duke and Gonzaga).

That pattern should come to an end on Thursday night, as Marquette starts a three-game home stand beginning with its crosstown rival Milwaukee.

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2 Comments on “Marquette-Milwaukee preview: Golden Eagles look to rebound from Monday loss”

  1. Victor E. Panther
    December 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Great preview (honestly (Milwaukee fan here)). But just a backseat editor’s note- it’s Kyle Kelm (not Ryan Kelm). And Ja’Rob McCallum, one of our best pure shooters, will not play tomorrow. He has been sidelined semi-long-term with a wrist injury.

    Despite what Vegas is thinking (odds are currently anywhere between -13—-15 Marquette), I think, with MU speeding up the tempo, and UWM slowing down the tempo, this one will wind up around 75-73.

    Who knows who will come out on top? Probably the Golden Eagles. But you never know.,,, Thanks for the good preview. I wish my school (specifically the UWM Post) would do as much. Lookin’ forward to a good game.

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  1. Daybreak Doppler: Packers Beginning To Reload | PocketDoppler.com - December 22, 2011

    […] A preview of tonight’s UW-Milwaukee/Marquette hoops game. […]

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