Wisconsin battles back for win

The Badgers overcome Marquette's sharp first half shooting and hang on for thrilling 63-59 victory

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Wisconsin overcame Marquette's hot shooting early in the game and reaped the benefits of Alando Tucker's return to the starting lineup to pull out its 19th consecutive home win Saturday.


Tucker, playing in his third game after recovering from a broken right foot, led the Badgers with 17 points, 12 in the second half, and scored five of Wisconsin's last six points down the stretch to close out a 63-59 win.


Marquette (7-2) scored the game's first nine points and hit six of its first eight shots—on its way to 57 percent first-half shooting. The Golden Eagles led 13-4 just over six minutes into the game, but their collective shooting touch cooled as the game progressed and the team suffered the loss of 14 turnovers, 11 in the first half. Marquette's lead extended to as many as 11 points, but Wisconsin (7-1) used a 12-0 run to tie the game at halftime.


Wisconsin struggled with from the perimeter and shot just 39 percent, but outscored Marquette 22-6 at the free throw line and did another remarkable job taking care of the ball, with only seven turnovers.


After trailing for almost the entire first half, the Badgers led for all but a few minutes in the second, pulling out to its largest lead when Zach Morley hit two free throws following Devin Harris' transition dunk to make it 46-39 with 11 minutes, 24 seconds left to play.


Marquette hung around and pulled within 57-56 with a minute-and-a-half left when Travis Diener, who led all scorers with 19, knocked down his fourth three-point shot.


Wisconsin's Tucker, though, answered, hitting a pair of free throws to give the Badgers a three-point lead. A Scott Merritt turnaround in the lane over Mike Wilkinson made it 59-58, but Tucker came through again, posting up Scott Novak and converting to make it 61-58.


"I let him cut in front of me," Novak said. "I should have stepped up…I had four fouls and I let him get position."


Marquette turned to Merritt again on its next opportunity and this time he drew a foul on Wilkinson and connected on one of two free throws. The Badgers' Freddie Owens also hit one of two to make it 62-59, setting up one final opportunity for Marquette, but Novak's three-point shot missed its mark.


"There was a play called and I was just one of the options," Novak said. "I ended up rolling out on the right side, I was pretty much wide open, (Diener) got me the ball—it just didn't fall that time."


Tucker then hit the front end of a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining to seal the Badgers' victory.


"I think he gave us a big boost, when he got the ball in there, making the most out of his opportunities," Harris said.


Merritt started Marquette's game-opening 9-0 run with a turnaround over Wilkinson. Two possessions later, Diener pulled up for three over Harris to make it 5-0. MU guard Joe Chapman followed with a runner in the lane and forward Terry Sanders got a put back to cap the run. The Golden Eagles, though, turned it over on three of their next four possessions.


"It is was one of those games," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "It's going to be a game of runs, it's going to be a game of mistakes. The team that makes the fewest usually comes out on top."


Wisconsin was cold from the field to start the game, missing its first seven shots. The Badgers finally cracked the scoreboard five minutes into the contest when Wilkinson drove to the rim from the top of the key, converting a layup to make it 9-2.


"We didn't get afraid early even though they hit those shots," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Our guys are maturing."


Morley hit a three to pull Wisconsin to within 13-7 with 11 minutes, 37 seconds left in the half, the only shot Wisconsin hit from beyond the arc in 12 attempts. The Badgers pulled within three with eight and a half left when Tucker converted from the post to make it 18-15. Marquette, though, responded with an 11-3 run to claim its largest lead, 29-18, with just under six minutes left in the half.


Boo Wade put a halt to the run with a driving layup with five and a half minutes left, sparking Wisconsin's 12-0 spurt. Wilkinson followed with a pair of free throws to make it 29-22.


Harris, who was just 2 for 9 in the first half, then converted a layup for his first basket of the game. After a Freddie Owens basket drew Wisconsin within three, Harris converted a layup and Owens hit two free throws, the first tying the game for the first time, the second giving Wisconsin its first lead of the contest, 30-29, with one minute, seven seconds left in the half.


Marquette's Karon Bradley answered with one of the Golden Eagles' five first half three-pointers to briefly retake the lead. Wisconsin's Wade, though, hit a pair of free throws to tie the game, 32-32, heading into halftime.

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