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Arizona's defensive scheme — sag off role players and focus on Tucker — worked wonders Friday

PHILADELPHIA — Lute Olson praised a staff scouting report in aiding his Wildcats' success on the floor Friday against the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team. It was not any secret — shut down Alando Tucker and make someone else beat you.

And while Tucker still somehow managed his average with 19 points against Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, not one of them came easy as the Wildcats bruised him throughout, especially during the first half when he rarely touched the ball.

"We knew we had our hands full with Tucker," Olson said. "We just wanted to make it very difficult for him, even if it cost us a bucket every now and then from one of their big guys other than (Brian) Butch."

Making someone else hit open jumpers sounded like a good plan. After all, nobody on Wisconsin has been able to make them in weeks. With players collapsed around Tucker in the lane, it was Jason Chappell, Joe Krabbenhoft and Kevin Gullikson who were left uncovered around the perimeter.

None of them were quick on the trigger upon finding themselves with ball in tow and no opposing hand in their face. There were looks of hesitation from most players in the opening few minutes before Gullikson knocked down a long jumper and Krabbenhoft connected on a 3-pointer. By then, though, Arizona had already opened up a large lead from which the Badgers would never recover.

"The thing was to prepare for something like this, but in order to be successful in a game like this you need some experience," said Bo Ryan. "You need some guys that in the beginning of a game when a guy like Alando was being covered the way he was covered, some other guys needed to make something happen early."

Krabbenhoft had a couple of sequences that fit that bill. On one in particular when he did connect on the 3, he originally caught the ball with an open look but hesitated and passed it inside before getting it back and hitting his long jumper.

"Coach has been talking to me about that, being ready to shoot," Krabbenhoft said. "I thought I had a wide open shot and I was standing straight up looking in for Tuck, because that's the way we needed to get going is get the ball inside. I wasn't ready to shoot it."

The physical Badgers wanted to establish a presence down low, but Arizona did not give them any room to do so. On many occasions it was not that the Wildcats didn't have a hand in the face of some Badgers. They didn't have a hand within a Tanner Bronson-sized radius.

"I passed it right to Brian and I was like ‘please pass it back' because I wanted to be ready to shoot it," Krabbenhoft said. "But that's something I've got to work on, that everybody's got to work on."

The supporting cast did not by any means shoot poorly. Take Tucker and Kammron Taylor out of the equation and the Badgers actually shot it at a 50 percent clip. And in the second half things opened up a bit for Tucker to at least catch the ball, and Taylor made three triples after halftime. But Arizona had clearly established the tone, and with a more wide-open style of game, Arizona conceded some open shots so long as Tucker could never find a rhythm.

To keep him from doing so, Arizona developed a bit of a ‘hack-a-Tuck' strategy, sending the UW star to the free throw line all throughout the second half. He finished 8-for-14 from the stripe.

"It was tough because I could tell every time I got the ball they were sending guys," Tucker said. "Even when I got a touch in the post they were sending guys, rotating guys. Or if I try to come off a screen they'd send two guys at me. It's tough because in a situation like that I wanted to be able to attack and get the ball to the basket."

With only Ray Nixon departing, the Badgers will return next season mostly intact and will again have the presence of Tucker as their go-to guy. However, as Krabbenhoft alluded to, everyone will need to work on developing the confidence and the expectation that they will shoot a certain amount of jumpers every game. In the final few weeks, teams centered their defenses around sagging off some players to spy on Tucker. Unless opposing teams respect the shot of Tucker's supporting cast, the scouting reports are likely to stay the same.

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