"He took advantage of what they were giving him," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "He was active, he made some good decisions with the ball."
Senior forward Tashaan Forehan-Kelly and freshman guard Michael Gerrity led Pepperdine (1-4) with 12 points each. But that tandem, which entered the game averaging a combined 29.6 points per game, had a total of one point in the first 25 minutes.
"It was key to not let them get a rhythm early," Tucker said.
By the time Forehan-Kelly got on the board, with a pair of free throws at the 14:59 mark in the second half, Wisconsin led by 17.
Chappell was the catalyst.
When picking out the Wisconsin players who will beat a team, few opposing coaches would pick Chappell, a first-year starter who rarely received minutes before this season, and was averaging 5.8 points per game prior to Saturday.
With Pepperdine center Jarrad Henry sagging off of him, though, the 6-foot-10 Chappell showed off his shooting touch, knocking down a 3-pointer to give the Badgers an early 4-2 lead. His second triple made it 19-7 Wisconsin 11:28 before halftime.
"We didn't know that Chappell could shoot the ball as well as he did," Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal said. "Our strategy was kind of have our center try to clog the middle and keep (Kammron) Taylor and Tucker from hurting us inside.
"If we gave up anything we'd give up shots to (Chappell) and he started dropping them on our head all over the place."
Chappell finished the game 5 of 10 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. Having attempted one 3-point attempt in UW's first five games, Chappell said he was not surprised to see a team give him space to shoot.
"Most ‘5' guys, when I'm guarding the other team's 5, I don't really expect them to shoot, and I haven't really shot that much outside so far this season," Chappell said. "I imagine that they'll start playing a little tighter."
After scoring a then career-high 11 points in UW's loss at Wake Forest Tuesday, Chappell had confidence.
"I felt like my jump shot was feeling pretty good," Chappell said. "I knew if I was open that I could hit it."
Saturday's game was never in doubt. The Badgers built a 10-point lead 6:34 into the contest and led by double digits most of the way.
Pepperdine's defensive strategy helped hold Tucker without a field goal in the first 20 minutes. Tucker and Taylor, the Badgers' leading scorers this season, each had two points in the opening half.
Wisconsin, though, still led 33-23 at the break, as Chappell and sophomore forward Brian Butch combined for 21 points. Butch scored twice on put-backs in the first three minutes.
The Badgers controlled the game with their defense. UW scored 28 points off 19 Pepperdine turnovers.
"I thought the thing that hurt us most was their second shots and our turnovers leading to their easy baskets," Westphal said. "I thought that in the half court for us being a young team I was real happy with our defense. I just wasn't happy with our offensive execution."
Gerrity and Forehan-Kelly combined to make 8 of 21 shots. Gerrity's first field goal came with 14:32 left in the game; Forehan-Kelly's first basket was a 3-pointer 29 seconds later.
Gerrity, who came into the game averaging 17.3 points per game, was 4 of 13 with five turnovers. Gerrity showed flashes of his ability, but with the Badgers' geared up to slow him down, and Pepperdine making just 31 percent of its first-half shots, the freshman point guard struggled.
"We've got to give him a little bit more help," Westphal said. "I think we've got to set better screens and space the floor better. Honestly, we've got to knock down some shots."
Taylor spent most of the game defending Gerrity. Sophomore reserve Michael Flowers checked Gerrity and Forehan-Kelly at various times in the game. The Badgers also matched up senior Ray Nixon and freshman Joe Krabbenhoft on Forehan-Kelly.
"Any time a guy like (Gerrity) is 4-for-13 and five turnovers, you've got to give credit to not just the guys that were guarding him but I thought the bigs hedged well," Ryan said. "Some pretty decent help and recover by the bigs."
Chappell's strong first half forced Pepperdine to respect him defensively, which created more space for Tucker and Taylor, who combined to score the first nine points of the second half to give UW a 42-23 edge.
Taylor finished with 12 points and had five steals.
"He was cognizant, alert, opportunistic," Ryan said of Taylor's defense. "He had a little bounce to that first step… He was pretty active."
The Waves made one second-half run, pulling within 46-37 when Henry spun past Chappell for a layup.
The Badgers, though, responded with a 9-0 run punctuated by 3s from Tucker and Flowers.
"(Tucker's) a good player," Westphal said. "It's hard to hold him down the whole game."
Taylor put an exclamation point on the victory when he beat Gerrity on a hesitation dribble in transition, then made an acrobatic layup and drew a foul on junior center Derick Grubb. Taylor finished the 3-point play to give UW a 60-39 lead with 7:33 left.
Pepperdine drew no closer than 69-54 from there.