Tucker-ed out: Wisconsin hustles to win glass battle (Men’s Basketball)

Jim Martinho

When Wisconsin out-rebounded Northwestern in a 69-50 win Jan. 29, Alando Tucker pulled down eight boards — six on the offensive end. In Saturday’s meeting, just 10 days later, the freshman forward duplicated those numbers as the Badgers again won the battle of the boards, 37-25, and dominated the game.

The Badgers grabbed the rebound on nine of 14 missed shots in the first half. The Wildcats couldn’t keep the explosive Tucker off the offensive glass, as he pulled down five offensive boards to help the Badgers to 12 second-chance points in the first half.

The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Tucker is averaging six rebounds a game even though he continually gives up inches and pounds at power forward. His inside presence has softened the loss of last year’s second- and fourth-leading rebounders, Charlie Wills and Travon Davis.

“I don’t know where we’d be without (Tucker) and the energy he brings to the glass,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “He did a great job, and he kept a lot of other rebounds alive that he didn’t even get credit for.”

The Cats out-rebounded a Big Ten opponent for the first time this season Wednesday against Indiana, but the edge on the boards was short-lived. Big Ten opponents have out-rebounded NU by more than eight boards a game — far and away the biggest difference in the conference.

Six-foot-11 senior center Aaron Jennings had only two rebounds in 32 minutes, although he was the tallest player on the floor. Junior guard Jitim Young followed up his 12-rebound performance against the Hoosiers with 10 boards — more than the six boards picked up by the rest of the Cats’ starters.

“That’s what I do, it’s instinct for me to go in every time a shot is up and crash the boards,” Young said. “I’ve been doing that since I (started) playing basketball. It is tough when you miss a shot and you look around and you see all red jerseys.

“But when your teammates shoot, you’re going in as hard as you can and trying to get the ball.”

stop THE PRESSes: Rebounding wasn’t the only facet of the game the Cats struggled with after excelling in it against the Hoosiers. Although NU’s full-court press disrupted Indiana’s offense — coming up with 11 steals — the Badgers’ speedy backcourt had little trouble dealing with the pressure.

Guards Devin Harris, Kirk Penney and Boo Wade —