Guess what Michael? Your secret is out.
With Tucker stuck in a 16-minute scoring drought and Taylor fairing no better, Flowers bloomed on the court, scoring a career-high 21 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including scoring the bucket to send the game to overtime, and dished out five assists in the Badgers' three-point overtime victory over Winthrop.
But the one stat that jumps out is his free throw shooting on Monday night. With the No.11 Badgers (8-1) needing to make their free throws down the stretch to keep up with Winthrop (6-3), Flowers delivered, making seven of his eight chances from the charity stripe.
"On video tape, we knew he could shoot and we respected him going in," Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall said. "He's a good player. Twenty-one points, five assists and he knocked down a lot of free throws. We thought he was a good player."
After besting his career high by nine points (his previous best was set against UW-Green Bay last season) and turning in a strong performance during Wisconsin's European trip, only one word came to Alando's mind when asked to describe his teammate's performance.
"Unbelievable," Tucker proclaimed. "This is what I saw him do in Italy. I was waiting for this to come out and this was the night. We needed everything he gave us on offense, on defense, him knocking down big shots and making key plays. That's what he's capable of doing."
Tonight's outcome could have been much different if Winthrop had the services of starting point guard Chris Gaynor. Gaynor, who has been averaging 8.6 points per game and been theEagles' ironman, injured his right pinkie toe in the Eagles' 10-point victory at Northern Illinois and didn't dress against the Badgers.
"Chris Gaynor started every game for two years and change," Marshall said. "He's been a dynamite performer for us. We missed him. You're going to miss a guy like that like [Wisconsin] would miss Kammron Taylor if he couldn't play."
In his absence, senior Torrell Martin certainly picked up the slack. Leading the team with 15.8 points per game coming into the contest, Martin exploded on Wisconsin, scoring 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting, including seven of 11 from three-point distance.
"Every time I step on the court, I feel great shooting the ball," Martin said. "Tonight was no different, but it was more of a team effort to get me the ball tonight."
"I thought Torrell Martin was the best player on the floor tonight," Marshall added.
If anybody had an inclination of challenging a Badger player to a game of Horse, it would be a smart decision to avoid picking Michael Flowers.
At the 15: 23 mark of the first half, Flowers drove the right base line and was met by two Eagles defenders. Stymied in the paint underneath the basket and with nobody to pass to, Flowers pulled off the trick shot, arcing the ball over the backboard toward the hoop. The ball bounced once on the front of the rim and fell through the netting for a stylish two points.
"That shot, I practice that when I play horse," Flowers said with a laugh. "As soon as the ball left my hand, I was like, ‘Coach is going to sub me.' I did not think the ball was going to go in. But when the ball went to net, I was just so happy."
Players of the game
It's hard to overlook Martin's performance. His 31 points certainly give the impression that Wisconsin was lax in guarding him, but that wasn't the case. Martin hit every tough shot one can think of: off ball screens, deep in the corner, hand in his face and even one falling backwards.
"He had to work for those; that's the only thing I can tell you," Ryan said. "He hit some tough ones. Seven of those threes, two of them he might have had room to catch and shoot without worrying about somebody coming to him. You're not going to foul him with the range he was shooting those from."
But without Michael Flowers, Wisconsin would have been headed to Milwaukee with their second mark on the right hand side of the standings.
"[Michael is] an opportunistic young man," Ryan said. "He plays hard, plays smart and has improved every year. He's improved every year and we think he's got a lot more improvement coming."
Stat of the game
While Winthrop set a Wisconsin opponent record for hitting 15 three pointers, breaking the record set in 2001 when Indiana hit 14, Wisconsin dominated the game on the boards. Wisconsin just didn't out-rebound the Eagles, they destroyed them, besting Winthrop by a rebound margin of 40-18.
What saved Wisconsin was their put backs, as the Badgers turned 21 offensive rebounds into 19 second chance points.
"I tried to say this last year at the North Dakota State game for example. We shoot 20-some percent, but we get hustle opportunities," Ryan said. "What won that game tonight wasn't field goal percentage, but hustle opportunities."
After Winthrop made the opening point in overtime, the Badgers squashed all hopes of an upset. Wisconsin scored on their first eight possessions in overtime, with the ultimate dagger being the two threes hit by Flowers and Tucker to put Wisconsin up six. After going 4-for-22 from distance in regulation, the Badgers were 2-for-3 in the extra five minutes.
The Badgers travel 90 minutes east, depending on traffic, down I-94 to take on the No.17/20 Marquette Golden Eagles (8-1) in a game that has been building national attention since the season started. Coached by Tom Crean and led by Dominic James' 17.4 ppg, Marquette beat Texas Tech and Duke in Kansas City to win the CBE Classic.
However, the Golden Eagles were sent to their first loss of the season on Saturday in the finals of the Blue and Gold Classic at the Bradley Center, losing to North Dakota State 64-60. Marquette hosts Delaware State on Tuesday, December 5th, before hosting the Badgers.
Wisconsin leads the all time series against Marquette 61-51, including a 77-63 triumph in Madison last year, but trails in games played in Milwaukee 36-25.