Nigel Hayes put Wisconsin teammate Ethan Happ on the hot seat in the locker room at halftime after the Happ missed nearly all of the first half with foul trouble.
A well-rested Happ helped the 17th-ranked Badgers brush past in-state rival Marquette for a 93-84 victory Saturday.
Happ scored all 11 of his points after halftime and Bronson Koenig had 18 to help the Badgers win their fifth straight game.
“I told everyone in the locker room at the same time, `Ethan, you got a lot of rest, so you’ve got to come out and play well for us,” Hayes (17 points, nine rebounds) said about encouraging Happ at halftime. “So I think he took it personally.”
The return of Happ gave Wisconsin a presence in the post to balance the offense. Marquette didn’t have an answer for Happ on both ends of the court in the second half.
The nimble, 6-foot-10 Happ added five rebounds and negated the inside play of Marquette’s 6-11 center Luke Fischer, who had nine of his 11 points in the first half.
“Better position defense, better help and he didn’t foul,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said about Happ. “That’s what got him in trouble in the first half.”
Wisconsin (9-2) went on a 16-0 run in the second half to help build an 18-point lead with 6:44 left. Marquette (7-3) got within eight with 2:22 left but never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Marquette’s Katin Reinhardt (16 points) hit his first four 3’s before missing his last two from behind the arc. Markus Howard led Marquette with 22 points.
The Golden Eagles just didn’t have an answer for Happ after halftime.
“Our coach told us he was the heart of their team,” Howard said. “We knew that when he was coming back in the game in the second half that they were going to be a different team, they were going to have a lot more energy. ”
Wisconsin is 67-56 in the rivalry that dates to 1917.
Sophomore Khalil Iverson gave Wisconsin a spark off the bench with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting, along with five rebounds and two blocks.
Up next, Wisconsin plays the back end of consecutive games against in-state rivals by hosting Green Bay on December 14.