Men's basketball notes: the return of Boo Wade

Junior guard enters Wisconsin's blowout win over Western Carolina

MADISON — Amidst wild cheers from Wisconsin fans, junior guard Boo Wade stepped onto the court for the first time this season Monday evening at the Kohl Center. With approximately two minutes remaining in the first half of Wisconsin's 89-49 thrashing of Western Carolina (5-9) Wade entered the game.

After sitting out nine full games due to an unspecified personal issue, Wade returned to practice Dec. 22 and saw his first minutes of the season against the Catamounts. In his nine minutes, he revealed some of the rust that had built up throughout the season, though, collecting only one point on a free throw, two defensive rebounds, a block and two personal fouls.

"I think he's easing his way back into that type of action. We're fortunate that, in a game like this, we were able to get him on the floor," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "Boo dropped a lot of rust out there. But you know, it's a process."

Taylor shines in first half

Sophomore guard Kammron Taylor provided a much-needed offensive spark in the first half, adding 10 points in nine minutes in the first half on 4 of 5 shooting. He added three points in the second half but had two assists.

It was a bounce-back game for Taylor, who had played just five minutes – with zero points and three turnovers – in the Badgers win over UNC Greensboro last week.

"I had a couple of good days of practice and I felt real good going into this game," Taylor said. "I know in practice how you play and I felt good in practice and it translated into the game today."

Nixon missing but rest of team sees action

Junior forward Ray Nixon was not present on the court against the Catamounts due to illness.

Aside from Nixon, the other 14 Badgers all saw minutes, including freshman center Greg Stiemsma, freshman guard Michael Flowers and crowd-pleaser redshirt freshman guard Tanner Bronson. Flowers added a rebound and three steals, while Stiemsma had three rebounds, two blocks and two points in eight minutes. He also had three personal fouls, including a technical foul late in the second half.

All in all, the bench contributed 31 points and 23 of the team's 53 rebounds.

"That's what you look for, you want a full team," said sophomore forward Alando Tucker, who added a game-high 21 points. "It feels great, I think, for everybody to get out there and contribute tonight. It really helped us all together because you never know. Some games, it's such a short turnaround, and we're going to need some guys to actually step in and get some minutes like that again, so this really helped them out with their confidence, the guys that haven't been playing as much."

Weary road warriors

Western Carolina has spent far more time on the road than on its home court in Cullowhee, N.C. The Catamounts opened their season at the Black Coaches Association Classic at Marquette Nov. 14 before facing Alabama and South Carolina, also on the road. WCU is thus far undefeated at home but has not won a game on the road, losing to UNC Asheville Dec. 4, Iowa Dec. 18 and The Citadel Dec. 21 before falling to Wisconsin.

The only thing the team has gained from the road, it seems, is frequent flyer miles.

"It's tough to go on the road. Plus, we've I think, traveled over 8,000 miles," Western Carolina head coach Steve Shurina said. "Our eight road games have been all over the place. In Iowa, coming out of Iowa, our flight was canceled. We sat in the airport for seven hours. One of our players … he was supposed to meet us back at home, we never met him in Cullowhee, literally. He was stuck in New York for two days, made it here at 11 p.m. last night, did not practice with us at all. So when you throw that on top of (the Kohl Center atmosphere), it makes it extremely difficult."

Bo Ryan quote of the press conference:

"He didn't sell popcorn or programs, so those are two things he didn't do. But he was doing everything else."

—Ryan on Alando Tucker's game. Tucker finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and a steal.

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