Men's basketball notes: Tucker sits

Badgers win with balance, defense and free throw shooting

MADISON – For the second straight contest the No. 19 Wisconsin men's basketball team was without leading scorer Alando Tucker, but once again the UW supporting cast came through in a convincing 73-58 victory over Northwestern. Tucker did not play because of the right foot injury that he re-aggravated in Wisconsin's loss to No. 1 Illinois last Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore practiced once this week, but was not suited up when Wisconsin came out for their shootaround Wednesday night. Tucker is still officially day-to-day.

The week of rest Tucker has had with UW playing Big Ten bottom dwellers Penn State and Northwestern may be pivotal in having him healthy for the rest of the season. The Badgers next contest against Minnesota Saturday in Minneapolis will be a true test for this Wisconsin team, especially if Tucker is still on the bench.

"I don't know," head coach Bo Ryan said about the timeframe of Tucker's return. "We will just have to check with [trainer] Henry [Perez-Guerra] tomorrow, he will give me another report… I know that he would like to be out there."

Balanced attack paces Badgers

Even without Tucker in the lineup the Wisconsin offense looked impressive once again Wednesday. The Badgers finished with five players in double figures, including four of the five starters.

"It's a very solid team…" Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "They have a lot of individual players.. that know their responsibilities, their roles."

Mike Wilkinson had his 12th game in double figures this season, dropping 11 points for the Badgers. Sophomore guard Kammron Taylor continued show that he can be a consistent scoring force for UW and led the team with a game-high 18 points and knocked down 3 of 6 from behind the 3-point arc.

"We have always been pretty successful when we have had lots of guys score in double figures and today it just showed how well we shared the ball and moved the ball and got open looks and guys knocked them down…" Wilkinson said. "Everyone on this team can contribute and that's what we need."

Other double digit scorers for the Badgers were freshman Brian Butch, who finished with 12, Sharif Chambliss, who chipped in 10, and Clayton Hanson, who added 11. The five players in double figures is the most Wisconsin has had reach that mark all season.

"When a guy is never on the floor I never address that because you are talking about a hypothetical," Ryan said about the production of the team with its leading scorer on the bench. "So, I just like the way the guys on the floor played between the lines, and took care of the task at hand.... you always have to be ready to play as a team."

Theft at the Kohl Center

Wisconsin ranks ninth in the Big Ten in steals per game, averaging just 5.72 steals per game. Do not tell Northwestern that though. The Badgers picked NU's pocket 10 times, falling one shy of their season-high 11 set Dec. 27 against Western Carolina. UW also reached double digits in steals one other time this season, against Maryland.

"Remember this, high risk, high reward," Ryan said about the Northwestern style of offense that features a lot of back door screens. "Some of those passes that Northwestern made for lay-ups, some of them didn't get through for the lay-ups… we deflected several of those that ended up being steals, so that's why you maybe get a little more against Northwestern."

Clayton Hanson led the Badgers with three steals, while Brian Butch and Zach Morley added two apiece. Andreas Helmigk, Chambliss and Taylor each tallied a steal each.

Free throw line finally charitable

Wisconsin, one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the Big Ten, was able to seal the victory from the charity stripe against the Wildcats. Wisconsin was in the bonus for the final eight minutes and made it to the free throw line 17 times in the second half.

After consecutive games in which Wisconsin did not shoot over 50 percent from the line, the Badgers connected on 74 percent (17-23) of their attempts against Northwestern.

Badgers weather Wildcat Storm

After jumping out to a comfortable 16-point halftime lead, Wisconsin allowed the Wildcats to climb back into the game late in the second half. NU used a 13-4 run to get it down to seven with just under six minutes remaining in the game, but the Wildcats were never able to get any closer than that.

"We didn't quite threaten, I didn't think," Carmody said. "If we could have got to four or something like that because during that stretch they were missing a few foul [shots] and then the foul shots get a little harder to make and the rim gets a little tighter, but then we just weren't able to get over that."

Bo knows quotes

"The only thing short term is my memory sometimes." – in response to a question regarding the timeframe for Tucker's injury.

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