MADISON, Wis. - Alando Tucker made himself right home in his first start of the season for Wisconsin.
Tucker, who played a reserve role in his first two games after returning from a broken foot, scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half in the No. 22 Badgers’ 63-59 victory over No. 23 Marquette on Saturday.
“I think he gave us a big boost,” guard Devin Harris said. “His presence on the court makes the team feel a little more comfortable.
Harris added 15 points to help the Badgers (7-1) overcame poor shooting and a slow start to win their 19th straight home game.
Travis Diener hit four 3-pointers and scored 19 points to lead Marquette (7-2) in the 110th meeting between the schools.
Tucker played 31 minutes in his third game back from the injury. He scored five points in the final 1:17, including a free throw with 7 seconds left that gave Wisconsin a four-point lead.
“His timing is coming back and he’s going to be OK,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
Tucker was 7-for-11 as the Badgers enjoyed a huge advantage from the free-throw line. Wisconsin was 22-of-32 from the line, while Marquette was just 6-of-9.
“That’s an awful big discrepancy,” said Marquette coach Tom Crean, whose team had 23 fouls to Wisconsin’s 12. “It’s hard to win anywhere when the free-throw difference is that (big).”
Wisconsin struggled from the floor, shooting just 39 percent overall and 1-of-12 from behind the 3-point line. Marquette was 9-of-18 from 3-point range. But the Badgers had just seven turnovers to Marquette’s 14 and made more plays down the stretch.
“It’s going to be a game of runs. It’s going to be a game of mistakes. The team that makes the fewest usually is going to come out on top,” Crean said.
Tucker scored with 45 seconds left to push Wisconsin’s lead to 61-58.
Marquette’s Scott Merritt hit a free throw with 33 seconds remaining to cut Wisconsin’s lead to two and the Golden Eagles regained possession after a scramble for the rebound.
But Merritt was called for traveling with 22.4 seconds left and Freddie Owens’ free throw with 21.2 seconds remaining stretched Wisconsin’s lead to 62-59.
After a timeout, Marquette’s Steve Novak missed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left and Tucker grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made a free throw to make it 63-59.
“I was pretty much wide open,” said Novak, who had 12 points. “It just didn’t fall that time.”
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