8:30 PM ET, December 27, 2003
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Alando Tucker left Gund Arena with his surgically repaired right foot in a walking boot. Suddenly, Wisconsin's easy win may have been costly, too.Tucker scored a season-high 22 points and Zach Morley had a career-high 14 as the Badgers (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) wore down Ohio for a 71-48 victory in the Rock-N-Roll Shootout on Saturday night. Tucker, who missed Wisconsin's first five games while recovering from a broken right foot, had his second straight strong game since returning to the starting lineup for the Badgers (8-1). However, the 6-foot-5 sophomore hobbled off favoring his right foot in the final minute. Afterward, Badgers coach Bo Ryan and Tucker refused to address specific questions about the injury. Tucker, though, said he expected to play Tuesday night at Alabama. "I'm just getting back to the point where my legs feel good," said Tucker, who broke his foot in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 9 while running up a hill in a preseason conditioning drill. "I'm feeling better playing longer periods of time." After being used off the bench for two games, Tucker made his first start on Dec. 20 at Marquette and had 17 points in 31 minutes. He played 27 minutes against the Bobcats, going 8-for-13 from the field with six rebounds. "He gives them another dimension on offense," Ohio coach Tim O'Shea said. "He can shoot 3s. He can post up inside." Devin Harris added 14 points for the Badgers, who made eight 3-pointers and came up with a big basket every time it looked like they were headed for trouble.Thomas Stephens had 13 points to lead the Bobcats (3-7). Ohio trailed by 18 early in the second half but closed within 53-42 on a 3-pointer by Jeff Halbert and Stephens' driving layup. But the Badgers weren't rattled and calmly ran their offense looking for good shots. Harris made two free throws, Mike Wilkinson hit a jumper and Morely dropped two more foul shots as Wisconsin regained control. "I liked the way we answered back," Ryan said. "That was key." In the first game of the 10th annual Shootout, Kent State beat St. Bonaventure 74-46. The Bonnies played without leading scorer Marques Green, who was suspended for violating an unspecified team policy. Wisconsin was playing just its third road game and first since a 73-67 loss in overtime at Maryland on Dec. 2, but the Badgers were sharp from the outset, bolting to a 9-1 lead. They made four 3-pointers en route to going up 22-10, and after Tucker converted a three-point play and hit a long 3 on consecutive possessions, Wisconsin's lead had swelled to 34-16. Stephens said some of Ohio's players might have been intimidated by the defending Big Ten champions. "We have a lot of young guys who didn't know what to do," he said. "We had nervous jitters." The Bobcats closed the first half with a 10-5 spurt to get to 39-26 at halftime, but Tucker hit a shot after a nice spin move in the lane and Morley scored five quick points as the Badgers pushed their lead back to 18 just four minutes after halftime. Wisconsin, which hadn't played in Cleveland in 76 years, beat Ohio for the fourth straight season. "I'm glad to say it's the end of the four-year contract with Wisconsin," O'Shea joked. "I'm just glad we don't have to play them again."
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