MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Milwaukee run a similar version of the same offense.
The seventh-ranked Badgers showed Wednesday night how big a difference the right personnel can make.
Alando Tucker scored 20 points to lead three Badgers in double figures and Wisconsin beat Milwaukee 68-49.
Whereas the Badgers start five upperclassmen who know coach Bo Ryan’s swing offense inside and out, Milwaukee graduated nine of its 13 scholarship players from last season’s team that went to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter, who played under Ryan at Wisconsin-Platteville and worked as his assistant coach for 10 years, said the difference between the teams came down to experience.
“The two teams really mirrored themselves, doing the same things, getting the ball pretty much in the same areas. It’s just a few different bodies in the uniforms,” Jeter said.
That particularly applied to Tucker, who led the Badgers (10-1) over No. 20 Marquette last Saturday—their first road win over a ranked team since 2002. Wisconsin hosts No. 2 Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Tucker said the Panthers likely assumed they wouldn’t have Wisconsin’s full attention sandwiched between two games of national importance. He said that meant the seniors had to take it upon themselves to prove them wrong.
A sluggish start left Wisconsin up just 14-11 midway through the first half. But the Badgers squeezed off an 11-0 run with six points from Tucker, opening a comfortable lead that they never relinquished. Fellow seniors Jason Chappell and Kammron Taylor chipped in the other five points in the run.
Milwaukee (2-10) trailed by 15 points at halftime and never seriously threatened the rest of the game.
Brian Butch had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Badgers, while Taylor added 10 points.
“That’s one of the things I wanted to concentrate on, making sure we got a big lead, we got ahead and we put the game out of distance right off from that point,” Tucker said.
Wisconsin shot 49 percent from the field, went 15-of-23 from the free throw line and outrebounded the Panthers 39-30.
By comparison, Milwaukee shot 32 percent from the field and took only four free throws until the final 4 minutes of the game, making just one.
It didn’t help Milwaukee that post players Paige Paulsen and Sam Mauldin were limited to a total of 34 minutes because of foul trouble. With both on the bench for long stretches in the first half, Tucker had little trouble driving to the basket and made eight of his first 12 shots.
Paulsen led Milwaukee with 13 points.
It was Wisconsin’s 14th straight win over Milwaukee, Ryan’s last coaching stop before he came to Wisconsin in 2001.
“Now you’re seeing what happens in their system. It just keeps building on itself and grows out of control,” Jeter said.