Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers try to Go-pher sweep

[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]MBB-vs-Northwestern-053-JS[/media-credit]When Minnesota and Wisconsin last met in Madison Jan. 6, the focus surrounding the game seemed to center much on star UW forward Alando Tucker.

This feeling was reflected in Minnesota's highly unusual and amusing pre-game media notes package, which stated: "Alando Tucker is a senior. That's about the only positive in a Big Ten scouting report on Wisconsin this season." It went on to say that Tucker was "ridiculous" and getting "more absurd by the game."

While the Badgers' Wooden Award candidate drawing headlines is hardly unusual, it will be a different Wisconsin (24-2, 10-1 Big Ten) player who will have all eyes on him tonight when UW travels to Minnesota (9-15, 3-8 Big Ten) to renew the Border Battle rivalry: Minneapolis native Kammron Taylor.


At the very least, the fan contingent behind the UW bench will be watching with great interest.

"He gets everybody's tickets," Tucker said. "He's going to have a whole station for himself of family and friends watching."

However, the two career visits to his hometown have not been good ones for the senior guard. In his career, Taylor has scored 15 points on 4-of-20 shooting while committing 11 turnovers to just six assists.

"In the past, he's been too pumped up at times, and it's shown in his game," Tucker said.

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan doesn't take stock in how Taylor has preformed in the past at Williams Arena, preferring to simply prepare for tonight's meeting.

"The mistakes that I've made, I hate to have to keep somebody bringing them up," Ryan said. "So I'm not going to say to Kamm, you either shot well or didn't shoot well here, and you've got to shoot better there and you've got to — no."

Tucker believes Taylor will turn the trend in what will be his final collegiate opportunity to play in the Twin Cities.

"He's excited, and he knows it's his last year," Tucker said. "So I think he wants to put on a performance there."

While having Taylor enjoy a successful evening would be helpful, if Wisconsin plays the type of defense it did in the season's first meeting with Minnesota — a 68-45 win at the Kohl Center — they might not need one. The 45 points allowed was the lowest total surrendered to a Big Ten team this year by UW as the Badgers held the Gophers to under 35 percent shooting.

But a repeat performance seems unlikely, as Minnesota's once-stagnant offense seems to finally be improving under interim-head coach Jim Molinari.

"The one thing Molinari always preaches is to get offense off of defense," said UW assistant Howard Moore, who was an assistant under Molinari at Bradley for three seasons. "No question, his message is finally starting to get though. Guys are buying into what he is trying to do."

Minnesota has scored 158 points in its past two games — the highest number the team has managed in back-to-back games all season.

Ryan has been as impressed as anybody about the job Molinari has done at keeping the Gophers from going back into their holes early in the season.

"I think Jim Molinari has done a heck of a job getting those guys to compete the way they have under the circumstances," Ryan said.

The Gophers' recent scoring surge could be directly attributed to the return of starting forward Spencer Tollackson, who missed seven games after breaking bones in his left hand due to a collision with a teammate when Minnesota last played in Madison. Tollackson has averaged 17 points since his return.

"Well, they look pretty good with him in there because he's a post presence that can get things done," Ryan said. "You can imagine how tough it was the last six or seven games or before these last couple when he wasn't on the floor. They're a better team with him back on both ends of the floor."

While Taylor might feel at home tonight in Minneapolis, it's unlikely any other Badger will, as Williams Arena — affectionately referred to as "The Barn" — is one of a kind. The oldest arena in the league, "The Barn" features a unique raised floor that will leave bench players looking at the court from eye-level and have Ryan and the players on something of a perch.

"It does feel a little awkward at times, especially times when you'd like to hide," Ryan said. "The coach I first came here with, [former UW head coach] Bill Cofield, split his pants the very first minute of the first game that he ever coached there. So what I try to do is not put myself in that position."

That's exactly what the Badgers are looking to avoid: a split, both in the season series and in anyone's pants.

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