Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pitt stunned by Badgers, 89-75

Alando Tucker scored 32 and Brian Butch added 27 as the Badgers' dynamic duo led #7 Wisconsin to an 89-75 over #2-ranked and previously undefeated Pitt. With new rankings due out Monday, the loss will certainly drop Pitt in the polls and provide a boost for the Badgers.

Tucker and Butch scored the first 10 Wisconsin points, as the Badgers raced to an early 8-point lead, setting the tone for the afternoon.

The Panthers made up the deficit to grab slim leads mid-way through the first half, but found themselves down 47-37 at the half as Tucker and Butch each poured in 20.

Pitt managed to hang around with 11 points from Ronald Ramos and 9 from center Aaron Gray. Wisconsin's 47 first-half points were the most Pitt had surrendered in a half and it was only the 3nd time the Panthers had not led at halftime this season. They were down 33-29 to Delaware before rallying for the 66-55 win November 19 and trailed Buffalo 42-35, eventually winning the December 9 game, 70-67.

Both teams shot well in the first half. Pitt was 13-25 (.52%), while the Badgers hit 17-32 (.53%). Alando and Butch shot a combined 14-19 in the half; their teammates were a dismal 3-13.

Pitt cut the lead to 7 early in the second half, but could not close the gap further. Every basket the Panthers scored was countered by the Badgers, who got points from players other than Tucker and Butch, especially Kammron Taylor, who tallied 14 for the game. Wisconsin eventually led by as many as 18 points and cruised in the latter stages.

The Panthers, concerned about leading scorer and rebounder Aaron Gray, who experienced flu-like symptoms earlier in the week, still got a complete game out of the normally-dominant center, as he scored 17 - right at his average - though he hit on only 5 of 10 shots from the floor. Gray and the Panthers were no match as they shot a mere 43% for the game, and 36% (12-33) in the second half.

The Badgers improved to 11-1, their only loss a 66-64 defeat at the hands of a solid 8-1 Missouri State squad in the semifinals of the South Padre Island Invitational on Nov. 24. Tucker, who leads all Big 10 players in scoring, improved his average to 21.2. Brian Butch's 27 was a career high.

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