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Wisconsin 80, Minnesota 74

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Alando Tucker lost his limp and
rediscovered his attitude.

Tucker scored 22 points in Wisconsin's 80-74 victory over
Minnesota Sunday afternoon, and his aggressive inside play drew
fouls and opened up scoring chances for two freshman teammates.

Tucker said the Badgers were determined to play aggressively
after Thursday's loss at Northwestern.

"That's how you win games, if you attack and you're
aggressive," Tucker said. "The Northwestern game, we watched that
and saw where we had a lot of opportunities where we could (have)
and we didn't attack."

With the victory, the Badgers (19-8, 9-5) pulled into a
three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten standings with Iowa
and Illinois.

They finish the season on the road with games at Michigan State
and Iowa.

"We have to close out as strong as we can," Tucker said.
"It's still a possibility, there's still a chance for us to win a
Big Ten championship."

Tucker was named the Big Ten player of the week after his
27-point, 16-rebound performance in Wisconsin's upset of Ohio State
on Feb. 15.

But he sprained his ankle last week and played with a slight
limp against Northwestern.

"He did look better," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "We needed
him."

With Minnesota struggling to defend Tucker, freshmen Joe
Krabbenhoft and Kevin Gullikson were left free to hit open shots.

Gullikson, a Minnesota native, scored a career-high 12.

"When people are taking things away from him, it just opens
things up for other people," he said.

Krabbenhoft added 10 points.

"Tuck can score on five guys, there's no doubt in my mind," he
said. "When he sees us open, I think that's a better shot than
over five guys -- not that he can't hit it and won't hit it, because
he will. But if we get the ball and the opportunity, we've got to
knock it down, and that's what Kevin and I tried to do today."

Minnesota coach Dan Monson said Tucker's play caused confusion
in the Gophers' interior defense.

"We got caught in the middle a lot, and those guys made us
pay," Monson said.

Tucker said Krabbenhoft and Gullikson are earning Ryan's trust.

"They're two freshmen, but they're out on the floor closing out
the game," Tucker said.

Tucker hit a baseline jump shot to give the Badgers a 67-62 lead
with 1:48 remaining.

Minnesota rallied to draw within four, 76-72, with 19.8 seconds
remaining.

But Badgers guard Ray Nixon, a senior playing in his final home
game, hit four free throws in the final 14.7 seconds to seal the
victory.

Vincent Grier scored 18 points for the Golden Gophers but picked
up his fourth foul with 7:33 remaining.

"We had to go with a lot of different lineups and had a lot of
different issues because, for whatever reason, we were obviously in
some foul trouble," Monson said.

The Badgers shot 36 free throws to the Gophers' 12 and were
10-for-10 from the line in the final minute of the game.

Ryan praised his team's poise at the end of the game.

"You can close out games if you do that," Ryan said. "I know
a lot of those were free throws, but you still have to go to the
line and make them. You have to get the ball in, you have to make
good decisions."

Minnesota (14-11, 5-9) had won four of its previous five games.

"We've got to go win basketball games right now to try to
create who we want to be," Monson said. "And I think we're
close."

A three-point play by Minnesota's Adam Boone brought the Gophers
to within two with 6:14 left, and Minnesota took a 60-59 lead on
Boone's 3-pointer. Boone finished the game with 18.

But the Badgers rallied behind a Brian Butch jump shot, two
Kammron Taylor free throws and a putback by Gullikson to reclaim
the lead, 65-60, and set up the final sequence.

The Badgers honored Nixon in a short ceremony before Sunday's
game. Fans gave Nixon a standing ovation, and a banner hanging from
the third deck read, "Congratulations Ray 2002-2006."

"He said he doesn't get involved in all the hoopla and
everything before, but you can see that he got emotional coming out
of the game," said Tucker, Nixon's roommate.

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