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McNeal leads Marquette past Wisconsin

Dec 7, 2008 - 6:41 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Jerel McNeal scored a season-high 26 points as Marquette used a late rally to knock off No. 22 Wisconsin, 61-58, on Saturday.

Dominic James added 10 points for the Golden Eagles (7-1), who defeated the Badgers for the second straight year in the 115th all-time meeting between the two schools.

"I thought the last 16 minutes was Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali," Marquette coach Buzz Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I thought it was an incredible college game, and I'm not just saying that because we won."

After trailing by six at the intermission, Marquette stayed within striking distance and eventually tied the contest at 46-46 on McNeal's jumper with 10:11 remaining.

Wisconsin went back up by three, but McNeal scored seven points during a decisive 12-0 burst as Marquette took a 58-49 lead with 2:34 left to play. The senior's 3-pointer gave the Golden Eagles a 52-49 edge with 5:30 left.

"(McNeal's) the guy on that team that can create things," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan told the Sentinel. "We were just trying to get him to do it in different ways."

The Badgers ended their six-minute scoreless stretch and got within 58-54 on Trevon Hughes' 3-pointer with 1:23 remaining.

Hughes made a layup to cut the Wisconsin deficit to 59-56 with 25 seconds remaining but, after Maurice Acker made one free throw, the Badgers guard missed a 3-pointer, ending any hopes of a comeback.

The win is easily the most significant for Williams, who is in his first year on the sidelines after replacing Tom Crean.

"This program is about our players, about our institution and about our fans," Williams told the newspaper. "It's not about me."

Wisconsin went on a 9-0 run midway through the first half to take an 18-10 lead with 10:11 left before the break.

The Badgers led by as many as 10 before the Golden Eagles crept back within 28-25 with 2:07 left in the half. Hughes' layup gave Wisconsin a 33-27 advantage at the break.

Hughes scored 14 points to lead the Badgers (6-2).