PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Mike Wilkinson had just played one of
the best games of his career at Wisconsin. He immediately began
thinking about the next few hours.
"This is going to be a long plane ride home with those small
seats," the 6-foot-8 senior forward said, "but it's going to be a
nice ride with the win."
Wilkinson scored a career-high 26 points and came up with
several big plays in the final 2½ minutes as the Badgers (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP) beat Rutgers 70-62 on Saturday night.
"Wilkinson hit the floor more times tonight than any player
I've ever seen," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "It wasn't
anything different, just going after rebounds and making plays.
He'll feel it tomorrow."
Wilkinson went 10-for-14 from the field, including 3-for-5 on
3s, for the Badgers, who shot 60.9 percent from the field in the
second half (14-for-23).
Wisconsin (4-1) had lost its only road game of the season, 75-61
"We really wanted a road win after Pepperdine," Wilkinson
said. "But we really did learn a lot from that game. We're
starting to get a feel for each other. We have a chance to become a
Freshman forward Ollie Bailey had 20 points for Rutgers (2-2),
which lost 83-80 to Penn State on Wednesday, making the Big East
school 0-2 at home against the Big Ten.
"I think we're overreacting about these games," Scarlet
Knights coach Gary Waters said. "These are good teams. Penn State
is better than people think and this was an NCAA team tonight. If
we were hitting those shots everybody would have been going
Sharif Chambliss added 14 points, all but two on 3-pointers, for
the Badgers (4-1), who were coming off a 69-64 victory over No. 12
"Wilkinson did a great job for us tonight," Chambliss said.
"I had the opportunity to spot up a couple of times. That's part
of the game."
Wilkinson hit a 3 with 16:01 to play that gave Wisconsin its
biggest lead of the game, 42-29. But the Badgers went 5:14 without
scoring and Rutgers got within 42-37 on a rebound basket by Ricky
Shields with 11:55 to play.
Chambliss hit a 3 to snap Wisconsin's drought and Wilkinson made
his third of the game with 5:52 left to give the Badgers a 61-51
Wilkinson, whose previous best was 24 points against Illinois
last season, made some big plays in the final 2½ minutes, blocking
a shot by Quincy Douby, coming up with the offensive rebound of his
missed free throw, and stealing the ball from Bailey.
"I really just go out and do what I can to help us win,"
Wilkinson said. "My teammates did a great job of moving the ball
against the zone and got the ball to me when I was open."
Douby had 19 points for Rutgers and Shields added 12.
"It's kind of hard to guard big guys who are 3-point threats,"
Douby said, referring to Wilkinson. "Our guards aren't used to
playing that deep and so far out. That kind of hurt us today and
they took advantage of what they had."
Alando Tucker, who had a career-high 27 points in the win over
Maryland, had five on 2-for-7 shooting for the Badgers, who
improved to 45-1 under Ryan when scoring 70 or more points.
"If they take one guy away from you, you have to find
another," Ryan said. "We did a good job sharing on both the
offensive and defensive end."
The teams went through a horrible offensive stretch in the first
Wisconsin led 18-9 when it went scoreless for 8:08, missing 11
shots and committing three turnovers.
"I thought the scoreboard was frozen on 18," Ryan said.
Rutgers went on a 7-0 run then didn't take advantage of the
drought. The Scarlet Knights didn't score for 6:20, missing seven
shots and turning the ball over four times.
Wisconsin went ahead 23-16 before Rutgers ended its drought and
the Badgers led 29-23 at halftime.
Wisconsin leads the all-time series 3-0 with the other wins
coming in 1949 and last season.