Supporting cast leads the way

First-half run propels Wisconsin to 77-63 win over Marquette; Chappell, Nixon and Taylor thrive

Foul trouble made Alando Tucker a non-factor for most of the game, Brian Butch struggled, and Kammron Taylor was slow to get started.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team.

Maybe not.

Taylor heated up and the Badgers' supporting cast, particularly senior guard Ray Nixon and junior center Jason Chappell, took command, as UW upended visiting Marquette 77-63 at the Kohl Center.

Taylor led Wisconsin with 18 points, including three key 3-pointers to lead a first-half rally, while Nixon (15) and Chappell (10) contributed double figures. Chappell also had a game-high nine rebounds.

Nixon scored seven of UW's first 13 points, helping the Badgers take an early 15-10 lead.

Said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan: "I think those two guys especially, because of the knowledge of what we wanted to get done, so when we ran into some problems with fouls with some other guys, they were able to handle their positions and take advantage of their opportunities."

The Golden Eagles led 25-21 with 7:20 left in the first half, but Wisconsin out-scored Marquette 23-6 to take a 44-31 halftime lead. MU coach Tom Crean felt that his team lost its edge after a television timeout with 7:57 left in the first half.

"The TV timeout at the eight-minute mark we had a four-point lead (23-19), I never liked our demeanor the rest of the first half," Crean said.

"We were very aggressive early on, and we were doing a good job defensively," Crean continued. "We were following the game plan. We had a four-point lead, we kept it at that just for a little bit longer, but then we lost our aggressiveness defensively. We didn't have any ball pressure, we gave them lay-ups and we settled for jump shots."

Taylor's three triples were the catalyst in the spurt. Chappell added three points and set up center Greg Stiemsma's two lay-ups with perfect high-low passes. Marquette, meanwhile, went cold, making 2 of 9 shots in the final seven minutes before halftime.

"I'd love to tell you it was a coaching move, but it had nothing to do with it," Ryan said. "Our players executed during those last couple TV-timeout stretches a little bit better and that's why we went into halftime with the lead."

"You can't trade lay-ups for jump shots and I think that's what we did, a little too much, at the end of the half," Crean said.

Wisconsin's second-half advantage never shrank below nine points and grew to as many as 17.

Freshman point guard Dominic James nearly contributed a triple-double (10 points, eight assists, eight rebounds) for Marquette and senior Steve Novak tallied a team-high 14 points. But James had four of MU's 16 turnovers and Novak scored just four points while guarded by Chappell. One of the nation's best shooters, Novak made 2 of 9 3-point attempts.

The Eagles also struggled with foul trouble. Jerel McNeal and Dan Fitzgerald fouled out and Novak and Wesley Matthews and Ryan Amoroso had four each.

Marquette made 5 of 20 3s, and only one of its first 12. For the game, the Eagles made 38 percent of their field goals.

Marquette used a 7-0 run to take a 23-19 lead with 8:06 left in the first half, but Wisconsin answered emphatically following the under-eight timeout.

"We just basically got together and said we've got to finish the half out strong," Taylor said. "We knew we weren't playing up to our potential."

Tucker drove past forward Chris Grimm for his first bucket of the game, then made a 3 to draw UW within 25-24.

Tucker, though, picked up his second personal foul and sat out the final 6:07 before halftime. With Tucker and Butch—who sat with his second personal at 8:26—on the bench, Wisconsin dominated.

"I just think we didn't have the urgency we needed probably at that point," Novak said. "….Coming out of that timeout it just seemed like the tempo of the game changed for us. They were a little more aggressive than we were and we were on our heels."

Tucker's triple opened a 7-0 run capped with center Greg Stiemsma's layup on a perfect lob pass from Chappell.

After Marquette drew within 28-27, Taylor took charge, making his first 3. He buried his second triple at 2:44 in the first half, making it 36-29 UW.

"Even though we did a pretty good job defensively on Alando, we did not do nearly as good a job on Kammron Taylor," Crean said.

Novak's first bucket against Chappell made it 36-31, but Wisconsin ripped off an 8-0 run to close the half.

Chappell converted a three-point play to start the run. DeAaron Williams received Taylor's 3-point airball and converted a tough layup at 1:31.

After a ragged sequence, UW called timeout with 23.8 seconds left and put the offense in Taylor's hands. Taylor whittled the clock down to 12 seconds, then worked toward the arc, stepped to his left and drilled a tough 3 despite tight defense by James.

Tucker scored only five points in the first half and finished with eight.

"Our players just play and they don't care where it comes from," Ryan said.

UW's first three possessions of the second half resulted in two turnovers and an offensive foul, and Marquette pulled within 44-35. But Michael Flowers hit a jumper and Kammron Taylor converted a layup to give UW another 13-point edge.

Marquette never challenged from there.

Wisconsin's field goal percentage dropped from 50 to 35 from the first half to the second, but the Eagles could not take advantage, hitting 10 of 35 second-half field goals (29 percent).

"We were never able to climb over the hump," Crean said.


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