ATHENS, Ga. (AP)—Wisconsin capitalized on poor shooting by Georgia for its 10th straight win, but the fourth-ranked Badgers weren’t taking any credit for the Bulldogs’ poor offensive showing.
Alando Tucker scored 29 points to lead the Badgers to the 64-54 victory over the cold-shooting Bulldogs.
“They had some good looks at the basket,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said of the Bulldogs. “We saw on film where other teams were taking the ball out of the net and putting it into play after those shots went in.”
Wisconsin’s 14-1 start is its best since the 1913-14 team went 15-0 for the season.
Tucker was 11-for-19 from the field, just one of two players who shot better than 50 percent from the field in the game.
“His points certainly don’t come as a surprise,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said, referring to Tucker. “We were able to neutralize him a little with the zone, but then he stepped out there and hit a 3 where he was not exactly wide open. It seems like he has his biggest games against the toughest teams.”
Tucker’s last field goal, a 3-pointer with 2:13 to play, gave Wisconsin a 56-51 lead and stifled Georgia’s comeback hopes.
“He is one of the best I have seen this year,” Georgia’s Sundiata Gaines said. “He’ll be an NBA draft selection.”
The loss was the third straight for the Bulldogs (8-4), who shot 30 percent (18-for-60) from the field.
“It was an off night for us,” said Takais Brown, who led the Bulldogs with 20 points and 13 rebounds. “Every team has them. If we could have put it in the basket, we would have won.”
Felton said the Bulldogs still gained something from the loss.
“Wisconsin stopped our running game,” he said. “We just struggled to make some very makable shots.”
Brown backed in for a basket at the start of the second half to extend Georgia’s last lead of the game to 34-31.
But Tucker scored eight of Wisconsin’s next 10 points as the Badgers went up by as much as six, 41-35 with 13:25 to play.
A driving layup by Mike Mercer pulled Georgia within 48-47 with 7:03 to play, but the Bulldogs managed only one field goal the rest of the game. When Brown converted a backdoor layup with 1:27 to play Wisconsin led 58-54.
Marcus Landry of the Badgers made two free throws to make it 60-54, and then he iced the game with a three-point play in the final minute.
“Championship teams play defense,” Gaines said. “We just had some miscommunication and breakdowns at the end of the game.”
Kammron Taylor added 14 points for Wisconsin.
Gaines and Mercer both had 11 for the Bulldogs.
Wisconsin took a 13-2 lead at the outset as the Bulldogs didn’t make a field goal for the opening 6 1/2 minutes. Tucker had six points in the early run on a free throw, a reverse layup and a 3-pointer.
But Brown rallied the Bulldogs, scoring the first four points of a 9-0 run.
Tucker scored six points in a 68-second span as the Badgers went up 26-17 on a 3-pointer by Brian Butch with 7:21 remaining in the half. The Badgers failed to make a field goal over the next six minutes.
Georgia tied the score for the first time on a layup by Sundiata Gaines with 3:43 to play, ending another 9-0 run. Brown’s basket with 2:01 to go gave the Bulldogs their first lead, 28-27.
Tucker scored on an alley-oop dunk with 56 seconds to go, but Gaines gave Georgia its 32-31 halftime lead when he hit an NBA-range 3-pointer to beat the shot clock with 15 seconds to go in the half.