for this game

Taylor rescues Wisconsin with big second half

Mar 16, 2007 - 11:34 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Alando Tucker is Wisconsin's all-time leading scorer and the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. But it was Kammron Taylor who rescued the Badgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Taylor scored all 24 of his points in the final 10:42 to spark second-seeded Wisconsin to a 76-63 victory over 15th-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a Midwest Region game.

The Badgers (30-5) will play seventh-seeded Nevada-Las Vegas in the second round on Sunday. UNLV beat Georgia Tech, 67-63, earlier in the day.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (26-7) made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and proved it belonged, scoring the first 10 points of the game and racing to a 25-7 lead in the first 14 1/2 minutes.

The Islanders held a 40-28 advantage after a pair of free throws by Scooby Johnson with 14:56 left in the second half.

But the Badgers took over from there, going on a 24-8 run over the next 6:07.

Taylor scored the last 11 points for Wisconsin in the run, hitting his first basket of the game - a 3-pointer with 10:42 left - to pull the Badgers within 47-44. The 6-2 senior guard tied the game with another shot from the arc just 27 seconds later.

"It's one of those rare moments where you hit your first shot and everything starts to feel good from there," Taylor said. "As one of the leaders on this team, I had to step up."

Taylor put Wisconsin ahead for good with another jumper with 9:36 left. After Johnson made 1-of-2 free throws for the Islanders, Taylor hit another 3-pointer to give Wisconsin a 52-48 lead with 8:49 remaining.

"Kam's ability to get us in that run offensively turned the game around for us," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.

Taylor made eight free throws in the final 2:44 to seal the win.

Tucker finished with 23 points, but made just 6-of-17 shots. He was 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

Chris Daniels led Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with 20 points and nine rebounds.

In its eighth year in Division I, the Islanders won the Southland Conference tournament title to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Wisconsin was selected as an at-large team after losing to top-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game last Sunday.

But the Badgers were in danger of becoming only the fifth No. 2 seed to lose to a 15th seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after making just 6-of-29 shots in the first half.

"We played bad in the first half, probably as bad as we have all together as a unit," Tucker said. So it couldn't get worse."

"I just wish the game could have been over at halftime," Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Ronnie Arrow said. "The second half they came out and played well and we gave up 57 points and you will not beat many people doing that."

Wisconsin shot better than 61 percent (16-of-26) in the second half.

"I'm just glad when they set this game up they did it in two halves and it is 40 minutes," Ryan said. "They won the first 15 minutes and we won the next 25. It is nice to be on this end, it just took awhile. It's amazing when shots go down what can change, momentum, confidence."

Wisconsin made just 3-of-23 shots as the Islanders raced to a 25-7 lead.

"I felt if we kept running the ball we could boost the lead and keep pushing and pushing and scoring in transition," said Islanders guard Taurean Mitchell, who finished with 11 points and seven assists.

But the Badgers closed the first half with a 12-2 run as Tucker scored eight points, capping it with a dunk with seven seconds left.

"Tuck's dunk to end the half helped us," Wisconsin guard Michael Flowers said. "It let the other team know we weren't going away and that we came here for a reason. Then Kam started making his shots in the second half."