Badgers repel UWGB's challenge

After falling one point behind early in the second half, Wisconsin dominates visiting Phoenix

Three minutes into the second half, the UW-Green Bay men's basketball team had a one-point lead and was smelling an upset at the Kohl Center. Host Wisconsin, however, responded with a 22-5 run over the next 10 minutes to secure an 82-62 victory.

Junior forward Alando Tucker led Wisconsin with 18 points and sophomore guard Michael Flowers provided a spark off the bench with 12 points, six steals and four assists.

UWGB took a 47-46 lead at the 17:09 mark in the second half on freshman forward Terry Evans' jumper. But the Phoenix (2-5) failed to score on their next five possessions, and Wisconsin (6-1) took advantage, going on a 6-0 mini-run to take a 52-47 lead.

"I think at that point we saw the urgency that we wasn't playing with," Tucker said. "We saw that Green Bay came in and they had one thing on their minds. I think we had to realize that. I think that's when it hit us in the head. We were not playing Wisconsin basketball. We were playing tentative, soft."

Phoenix junior point guard Ryan Evanochko momentarily stopped the bleeding, with a bucket to close the Badger lead to three. But Wisconsin scored 16 of the next 19 points to take command of the game.

Tucker struggled throughout the game to make free throws (1-for-7), and was 3 of 8 from the floor in the first half. But he took the game over in the second half by aggressively taking the ball to the rim. After missing a pair of free throws with 15:09 left to play, Tucker scored eight of UW's next 10 points to help produce a 60-52 advantage.

"I just thought we were dead. I thought we were dead for a while," Tucker said. "I know I struggled in the first half with making some easy baskets. I definitely wanted to attack the basket a little more stronger.

"I told the guys, at one point, ‘If you get me the ball, I'm going to score for you.' That's basically how I went."

Said Flowers: "We called plays for (Tucker) and he proved… He not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk out there."

Flowers did his fair share in his 27 minutes off the bench. Five of his six steals came in the second half. His defensive presence was a key factor in UWGB's nine second-half turnovers.

After shooting the ball well for most of the game, UWGB made just 2 of 12 shots during UW's 22-5 run. Seven of the team's 15 turnovers came during that 10-minute span.

"It's kind of been a pattern with our team this year that we go through lulls…," UWGB coach Tod Kowalczyk said. "We had some good looks, didn't make some shots."

Evanochko scored a game-high 22 points, but was relatively held in check in the second half, scoring seven points on 2 of 3 shooting. He was dominant in the first half, scoring 15 points to go along with four assists and just one turnover.

For UWGB, freshman forwards Mike Schachtner and Evans added 18 and 14 points, respectively.

The evening was far less pleasant for Phoenix freshman forward Ryan Tillema. Nursing a thumb injury suffered in practice Tuesday, Tillema was 0-for-8 from the field, including 0 of 4 from 3-point range. He came into the game shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc, and was UWGB's second-leading scorer (10.7 points per game), but Flowers and senior forward Ray Nixon hounded him.

"When they went to a smaller lineup, (Flower's) a little bit more of a matchup problem cause he was on Tillema," Kowalczyk said. "Ryan had a hard time getting some shots off because of it. He's a little bit quicker than Ryan, but I've got to do a better job of posting him up… If we (were) doing it all over again I'd post up Ryan a little bit more."

Wisconsin led 31-21 with 5:03 left in the first half, after junior guard Kammron Taylor made a 3.

UWGB, though, out-scored the Badgers 16-9 to close the half. Evans spurred the rally with a pair of free throws and his second 3 of the half. Evanochko scored six points in the last 1:55 before halftime.

After shooting 46.4 percent (13 of 28) in the opening 20 minutes, UWGB made four of its first five shots in the second half to take its 47-46 lead. But the Phoenix shot 4 of 22 (18.2 percent) in the final 17 minutes.

"When you are not making shots, you'd better get stops and that's when I thought Tucker's athleticism took over," Kowalczyk said.

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