Tucker's return to starting role boosts Badgers

Wisconsin forward scores team-high 17 in 63-59 win

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In No. 18 Wisconsin's roller-coaster ride of a victory (63-59) over No. 23 Marquette on Saturday, the Badgers got a much-needed second half boost from a re-charged Alando Tucker.

The sophomore forward regained his starting position after missing the first five games with a foot injury and coming off of the bench in his first two games back. Tucker's sluggish performance in the first half proved that he still has a few games to go before he reaches peak condition.

"I still have a lot of improvement," Tucker said. "The more I practice, the more I'll develop and the more I'll get my feel when I'm playing with the rest of the guys. I think I have a lot to work on and I know once I get to practice and see some film there will be a lot of plays where I know I could have contributed and I didn't, but it's just going to take time and practice."

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan noticed that Tucker does not have the hops like he did last year quite yet but knows that it will come in time. "He just didn't look as comfortable with his legs and the shot, now that can come," Ryan said. "And that's going to come because we got some time for him to get back into that. But again what you do in practice usually translates to how you're going to do in the game but sometimes there are certain things about timing and legs and shooting that does make a difference if you've been away from the game and I think he's going to get that back. His time is coming back and he's going to be OK. I'm not trading him in mid-season."

The second half gave Tucker the chance to get his second wind as he displayed familiar moves around the basket down the stretch. With 46 seconds remaining in a tight game, the 6-foot-5 Tucker took it confidently to the rack against 6-foot-10 sophomore forward Steve Novak - who had four fouls at the time - to solidify the Badgers' lead, 61-58.

"You want to take it strong no matter who's guarding you or how many fouls (they have)" Tucker said. "In that situation, as you could kind of tell, he was getting a little timid because he wanted to stay in the game so that's when you have to exploit some of his weaknesses and take it up strong and it's his decision if he's going to go up hard or play soft and this time he was trying to play soft so he could stay in the game."

Despite the slow first half for Tucker, he finished the game as the team's leading scorer with 17 points off of 5 for 10 shooting. He also grabbed six boards and connected on seven of his 11 free throw attempts.

"I think he gave us a big boost," junior guard Devin Harris said. "When he had the ball he made the most out of his opportunities. He rebounded the ball extremely well and he just brings that energy right away, his presence on the floor makes the team a little more comfortable, kind of like last year's feel. Today he played good, he made some mistakes like everyone. But he did a good job for us today."

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