Adjusting to a clear plastic protective that guarded his injured nose, Alando Tucker started off slow from the field in the Badgers' 71-55 win over Pepperdine. Going 0-of-4 on field goals in the first half, Tucker had just two points at the break as Wisconsin took a 10-point lead into halftime.
Dealing with creeping pressure from Pepperdine big men, Tucker got few looks at the basket but did allow Jason Chappell to get free from his man in scoring 12 first-half points.
"He'll never use (the mask) as an excuse," coach Bo Ryan said. "All I'm saying is that when somebody is wearing something different than they've worn before…I don't think Tucker, everyday, had something on his face."
Things changed in the second half, however, as Tucker scored two baskets in the first two minutes to help open up a 17-point lead.
After Pepperdine cut the Wisconsin advantage down to nine points with 11:48 remaining, Tucker scored five points — including a 3-pointer from the wing — in less than a minute as the Badgers rebuilt their lead and effectively put away Paul Westphal's Waves.
"I saw that they were making a run and I knew I had to make an attack," Tucker said. "I felt more comfortable in the second half, relaxed. I let things come to me."
Tucker finished 6-of-14 for 16 points to lead all scorers, although he struggled from the free-throw line, making just 3-of-7.
A tease at the point
Tucker turned the ball over once but did feed Ray Nixon on the wing for 3-point attempts on consecutive possessions, one of which was good for an assist.
Tucker, who has played some point guard during practice, called the move "something to look forward to later down the road" if the Badgers go up against a tall lineup.
"I thought that because he had the mask on, that those players wouldn't attack him defensively and feel sorry for him," Ryan joked. "…He did okay. It was just, at that time of the game, let's take a look at him helping to bring the ball up."
Turnover differential key
The Badgers recorded more turnovers than assists for the first time this season, finishing with 15 giveaways to just 11 assists. Wisconsin will need to improve upon that ratio as the season goes on, but the Badgers still enjoyed a significant advantage over Pepperdine in the category.
The Waves nearly finished with a 4:1 turnover-to-assist ratio, compiling 19 of the former to just five of the latter. Wisconsin converted those mistakes into 28 points in a game it won by 16.
Early second chances for Waves
Pepperdine pulled down 15 offensive rebounds on the day with the majority of those coming early in the game. The Waves grabbed 12 of their own shots by the 9:23 mark of the first half.
On one sequence in the opening minutes, Gregg Barlow secured his own rebound three times in attempting four consecutive shots. The Badgers did block two of those attempts and ultimately kept Barlow from scoring, but the multiple chances did not go unnoticed.
"There were a lot of non-secured balls that bounced around," Ryan said.
Fortunately for Wisconsin, Pepperdine converted just two second-chance baskets in that first half.
Putting it in manual
Taylor provided a highlight film move in the second half as he used a pass following a Brian Butch rebound to drive hard at the hoop.
It looked as if Taylor would attempt to simply keep speeding between defenders, but he showed a strong sense of his surroundings in slowing his speed. After a brief hesitation, Taylor took it in from left of the key between two men and laid it high off the glass and in, also drawing a foul on the play.
The free throw gave Wisconsin its largest lead of the afternoon, 60-39, and Taylor finished with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting.