Tucker was back in the starting five for the Badgers but, like his teammates, he struggled to connect from the floor. Even though he hit 5 of 10 from the field, UW's leading scorer showed a lot of rust around the rim when it came to finishing plays.
"Tucker is going to be better when he gets into rhythm, finishing around the basket," head coach Bo Ryan said. "That's something he needs to refocus now that he's able to get on the floor and do some things. He had a tough time finishing. He's got to get better at the things he was good at before."
Tucker, who missed Wisconsin's last two games because of the same right foot injury that has plagued him since Jan. 9, acknowledged after the game that he did not go at the rim like he normally does when at full strength.
"A lot of times… I faded away from the basket when I could have went stronger and that's something that next game, that won't happen," Tucker said.
Nonetheless, Tucker appeared healthier and played stronger than he has at any point since the injury. He said sitting out the past two games helped him recuperate.
With the Badgers down six at two different points in the second half, it was Tucker who made strong drives to the paint and connected on two baskets to bring Wisconsin within four.
For the game, Tucker played 31 minutes and finished with 10 points and six rebounds—four on the offensive glass. He did also commit three turnovers.
Nixon steps up down the stretch
Playing 15 minutes off the bench, junior Ray Nixon led all Badger substitutes with six points.
Nixon's biggest impact was felt in the second half, after the Gophers took a 10-point lead with 8:26 remaining. He responded for the Badgers and connected on back-to-back shots in the paint to bring Wisconsin within six.
Nixon, like several other Badgers, got his chance at guarding Vincent Grier in the second half and did a commendable job. He was able to force Grier into one of his two second-half misses.
"He showed some energy and after that he pulled his shirt and was tired. He gave us energy," Ryan said. "That's what we want. Guys off the bench coming in, give us a lift and help us out."