“I just wanted to show the players, coming off a tough loss, we can still stick together and do team things,” Tucker said, downplaying his individual performance. “I was proud of our team. I was celebrating for our whole team. It felt good to come together like that … it was a statement game.”
The Badgers had to weather a storm from the talented Terrapins, who were led by 21 points and 12 rebounds from center Ekene Ibekwe.
The Terps took the ball with 16 seconds remaining, down 67-64 after Badger forward Zach Morley missed the backend of two free throws. Junior forward Nik Caner-Medley took the ball at the top of the arc, but Badger guard Sharif Chambliss got his hand on the ball for a steal. Morley picked up the ball and was immediately fouled by Ibekwe. The senior forward connected on both of his free throws to seal the deal for the Badgers.
“Me and Zach switched to perimeters because we knew there wasn’t much time left on the clock,” Chambliss said of the steal. “So (Caner-Medley) was going to swing up. I used to watch G.P. (Gary Payton), so [you] stick your hand out there, and the ball ended up in my hands.”
Chambliss played a season-high 26 minutes for the Badgers, as starting point guard Kammron Taylor was relegated to just 12 minutes of floor time because of two early fouls. Chambliss chipped in 15 points, connecting on 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Wisconsin bench outscored its Maryland counterpart 26-5. Redshirt freshman Brian Butch scored just four points but added four rebounds, two blocks and became a tough defensive post presence for the Badgers in 13 minutes, while junior Ray Nixon chipped in five points off the bench.
“That’s what you want your bench to be,’ Maryland head coach Gary Williams said. “We didn’t get a lot out of our bench tonight.”
The Badgers were able to break a 19-all tie with 8:44 remaining in the first half with a 12-4 run over the next 2:39, culminating in Chambliss’ first 3-pointer of the game. Tucker recorded 20 of his points in the first half, with 10 of them coming from the charity stripe. Maryland committed 12 costly turnovers in the first frame, contributing to 12 Wisconsin points.
The Badgers left the floor with a 38-32 lead at the half but came out sluggish to start the second. The Terps went on a 7-0 run out of the gates, thanks to a pair of easy dunks from Ibekwe and a 3-pointer by junior Chris McCray at the top of the arc, giving Williams’ squad a 40-39 lead, their only advantage in the second half.
The Badgers countered with a run of their own, building their lead back to seven thanks to a tough lay-up from senior Mike Wilkinson with 11:17 remaining in the game. But Maryland stormed back to tie the game at 48 at the 8:08 mark, as Ibekwe continually had his way in the post, notching nine of his field goals in the paint.
But Zach Morley ended the Maryland run with a put-back on a Taylor 3-point attempt to give the Badgers a lead they would not relinquish. Morley, who made his first career start for Wisconsin, scored 12 points and recorded seven rebounds for the Badgers.
Defensively, Wisconsin held Maryland floor general John Gilchrist to just six points on two-of-14 shooting. The junior guard only connected on one-of-seven free-throw attempts but did manage eight assists and five rebounds for the Terps. Caner-Medley was also limited due to fouls, scoring just seven points and committing six turnovers. The Badgers were able to capitalize by scoring 20 points on 18 Terp turnovers, while committing just 12 of their own. It was a major turnaround from the 22 turnovers the Badgers committed in last Saturday’s 75-61 loss at Pepperdine.
“Wisconsin plays good defense; they did a good job,” Williams said of the pressure the Badgers put on Gilchrist. “I think they took him out of his game …They put a lot of people in the paint when he drove, and he usually is strong enough to get through there, and he couldn’t get through there tonight.”
The win marked Bo Ryan’s 71st victory in his 100th game as head coach for Wisconsin. It was also the coach’s first victory in five games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, leaving him two home victories shy of matching Doc Meanwell’s 33-game streak from March of 1911 to January of 1915. Ryan’s Badgers have lost only two games at the Kohl Center, the last coming in the 2002 Challenge matchup with Wake Forest.
“I am pretty excited,” Ryan said of the win over Maryland. “I don’t get too high or too low, so I didn’t have to get too low after Saturday (against Pepperdine), and I don’t have to get too high tonight. I like the way the [team] responded tonight after Saturday’s game. There were no pity parties thrown; the guys just came and played tonight.”