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Wisconsin dumps Minnesota behind Tucker's big second half

Feb 15, 2007 - 9:13 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Alando Tucker's big second half sunk any hopes of Minnesota capturing a signature win.

Tucker scored 18 of his 29 points after intermission as third-ranked Wisconsin continued its charge toward a Big Ten Conference title with a 75-62 victory over the lowly Golden Gophers.

With Tucker's latest 20-point effort, the Badgers (25-2, 11-1 Big Ten) posted their fourth straight win and 21st in 22 games. They also tied the school record for most wins in a season, first accomplished in 2003-2004 and matched the following season.

The Badgers, who are 11-1 in league play for the first time since 1940-41, continued to remain tied with Ohio State atop the Big Ten standings ahead of their matchup at Columbus on February 25.

Continuing his drive to surpassing Michael Finley as Wisconsin's all-time leading scorer, Tucker made sure that Minnesota (9-17, 3-9) did not have any ideas about avenging a 68-45 setback in Madison on January 6.

Closing within 46-44 on a layup by Brandon Smith with 9:16 remaining, the Golden Gophers saw Tucker answer back with a 3-pointer moments later and foul out the team's third-leading scorer, Spencer Tollackson, when grabbing a defensive rebound with 8:07 to play.

"That's probably why he's the player of the year," Minnesota interim coach Jim Molinari said about Tucker. "He does a tremendous job of taking on the challenge. Sometimes good defense gets beat by talent."

"I've fouled out of two games in a row now," said Tollackson, who finished with 13 points. "I don't think I fouled out of a game my entire college career until now, so it's frustrating. We all thought we could get it done. It just didn't happen."

Although Tucker finished 6-of-13 on free throws, he made both attempts from the stripe at that point to push the Badgers' lead to 53-44.

"Alando's lift just wasn't there, and he's been shooting it better, too," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said about Tucker's free-throw struggles. "It's something he has to keep working on, but he'll come back from it. He's had stretches like that before. Fortunately, it didn't cost us anything here tonight."

Trying to stick around, Minnesota cut that deficit to 57-53 on a 3-pointer by Dan Coleman, but Michael Flowers came back with a basket of his own from the arc, sparking an 11-3 run that Tucker finished off with jumper with 2:28 left.

Raising his career point total to 2,049, Tucker finished 10-of-20 from the field with nine rebounds.

The Badgers shot 56 percent (15-of-27) from the field in the second half to put the game away. That was a huge improvement from their 8-of-28 (29 percent) effort in the first half en route to just a 28-24 edge at intermission.

"We got better shots, moved the ball better and took care of it better," Ryan said. "We didn't have a lot of turnovers in the first half, but we were taking the first easy look. We got much better looks in the second half and that's why you shoot a higher percentage and get to the free-throw line."

Tucker, who is averaging 24.0 points in his last six games, also grabbed nine rebounds and Kammron Taylor and Flowers scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Wisconsin, which captured its 11th win in its last 12 meetings with Minnesota.

Lawrence McKenzie scored 21 points and Coleman 12 for the Golden Gophers, who committed 16 turnovers in losing their fourth straight game and ninth in 11.

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    WISCONSIN (3) 28 47 75
    MINNESOTA 24 38 62 FINAL

    Feb 14 10:05 PM

    WISCONSIN (3) 28

    Feb 14 8:50 PM