Statline: 18 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast, 7-10 FG, 1 TO, 26 min.
Quality of opponent: 7/10. If you had asked this directly after the game, the answer would have most likely been 6/10. If you had asked this during the Badgers’ conference season the answer would have been 8/10. With the benefit of hindsight, a seven seems more than fair. This wasn’t the one of Bo’s best squads, and they were struggling a bit coming into the game having gone 3-2 in the previous five games. To make matters worse, senior Mike Bruesewitz was a late scratch, further weakening Wisconsin. Still, this was an eventual NCAA Tournament team that reached the finals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Magnitude of game: 8/10. It was noted that Wisconsin was struggling, but Marquette had problems of its own, coming off the most humiliating defeat in the Buzz Williams era, a 33-point beatdown in Gainesville. Needless to say, the Golden Eagles needed to bounce back big-time so as to not dig themselves a hole too big to be overcome during the Big East season. Aside from that, every game against Wisconsin is a big game. This rivalry may not get the national attention of a Duke-North Carolina or Kentucky-Louisville, but the I-90 matchup has been great the past decade. And for Cadougan, this was a game he needed to dominate, seeing as the Badgers’ biggest weakness was at the point.
Rundown: Marquette opened up a 7-0 lead to begin the game, thanks in part to a Cadougan layup and assist to Vander Blue for a 3-pointer. But past that, the senior floor general was relatively quiet, finishing his 10-minute first half with four points and three assists. But in the second half Cadougan turned this into his game. He missed a 3-pointer to open the half but helped extend Marquette’s lead to 13 at the 14:13 mark with three key assists. He became a one-man scoring wrecking crew late in the game and left his mark on the Golden Eagles’ biggest win to date. His statline was remarkable considering he only played 26 minutes.
Key play: We’ll cheat a little here and call this Cadougan’s key stretch. Midway through the second half Wisconsin had cut Marquette’s lead to three, 41-38, with a 10-0 run. With the Golden Eagle offense in the midst of a classic slump–five straight misses and two turnovers–Cadougan went to work, scoring seven straight points on three straight possessions to extend Marquette’s lead to six, 48-42. Wisconsin got hot, but Cadougan’s heroics cooled its run.
Wow factor: The Wisconsin defense finished the season ranked second in the country in allowing assists on just 40.3 percent of opponents’ made field goals. But on this night Cadougan was a passing star, racking up six assists on just one turnover. Furthermore, it came on the heels of Marquette’s mess against Florida, when Cadougan had two assists to two turnovers in 18 minutes. Teams aren’t supposed to compile assists against Wisconsin; Cadougan did.
Historical precedent: Perhaps we’re cheating again here, but Cadougan’s performance as a sophomore against West Virginia in the Big East Tournament was just as impressive. In that game he went on a 7-0 second-half run by himself and scored four of Marquette’s last six points, scoring 13 points after halftime to lead the Golden Eagles to victory.
Closing time: With Marquette up six inside three minutes to play, Cadougan slowed the offense and attacked the basket with six seconds left on the shot clock. Using a Juan Anderson screen, he got to the rim and drew a foul on Jared Berggren while finishing the layup. He completed the three-point play to give Marquette a nine-point lead, but he wasn’t done yet.
A pair of quick 3-pointers from Berggren and point guard George Marshall cut the lead to five, 55-50, with 44 seconds left. Out of a timeout, Blue heaved a full-court pass to a streaking Cadougan who completed a layup and was fouled by Marshall. He again finished the three-point play and ended Wisconsin’s comeback. What a performance.