Whatever acrobatic fireworks a 6-foot-11 center can muster,
Butch came up with an improbable steal and breakaway dunk -- OK,
it was more like a lumber-away dunk -- to help the Badgers (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today; No. 4 AP) beat
Pacific 83-47 on Saturday.
"He actually separated from the guy behind him," Badgers coach
Bo Ryan said. "I thought that was pretty good stuff."
It was pretty good stuff all around for Wisconsin (12-1), which
dominated in its first game since beating then-No. 2 Pittsburgh a
week ago. That victory vaulted the Badgers to their highest-ever
"Having that week off and taking finals, a lot of teams let
down," said Taylor, who led the Badgers with 17 points. "But Tuck
being a leader, he just stayed on everybody."
Four Wisconsin players scored in double figures. Tucker added 15
points, and Butch and Joe Krabbenhoft had 11 each.
Ryan was generally pleased with the way his players handled the
"I think the statement of how they handled it is how they
played," Ryan said. "I don't think it was a negative. I don't
know how much of a positive it was."
Steffan Johnson had 16 points for Pacific (3-9), which has lost
its last six games, a streak that includes three losses to ranked
"I think they had command pretty much all the way," Tigers
coach Bob Thomason said.
With the blizzard conditions in the Denver area earlier this
week, Pacific had trouble getting into Madison and didn't arrive
until 1 a.m. on Saturday -- although Thomason noted that several
other flights headed this way were canceled.
"Maybe the governor of Wisconsin called and said, 'Don't cancel
that one. Get Pacific here, we know they're not very good right
now," Thomason said.
Wisconsin held a comfortable lead for the entire game and
steadily pulled away in the second half. The Badgers led 41-31 4
minutes into the second half -- then outscored Pacific 42-16 the
rest of the way.
Reserve guard Jason Bohannon hit a 3-pointer to give the Badgers
a 20-point lead with 11:08 remaining.
Butch then stole the ball from Tigers forward Ben Pemberton at
the top of the key, and lumbered down the floor -- all 245 pounds of
him -- for a two-handed breakaway dunk to put the Badgers up 59-37
with 10:39 remaining.
Butch wasn't made available to the media after the game, but his
coach and teammates had plenty of fun with him.
Ryan joked that Butch could have been whistled for a 10-second
"It looked like slow motion to me," Tucker said.
The undersized Tigers struggled to guard the Badgers inside, and
Wisconsin outscored Pacific 28-10 in the paint.
When the Badgers didn't score inside, they went to the
Wisconsin finished 26-of-32 at the line -- including 20-of-23 in
the second half -- and Pacific was 6-for-11.
"When you shoot that well and get to the free-throw line that
much it's pretty hard," Thomason said.
It was a relatively quiet night for Tucker, who came into the
game as the Big Ten's leading scorer at 21.2 points per game.
Tucker had scored 20 or more points in his previous four games,
including a season-high 32 in the Badgers' 89-75 victory over
Pittsburgh last Saturday.
But it didn't matter, as Wisconsin never really was challenged.
The Badgers hit their first eight shots of the game, jumping to
a 16-2 lead before Krabbenhoft missed at the 13:12 mark. But the
Badgers cooled off near the end of the half and led 36-24 at
Pacific's six-game losing streak includes losses to then-No. 8
Texas A&M on Dec. 2 and then-No. 21 Nevada on Dec. 16.
Forward Anthony Brown came into Saturday's game averaging a
team-high 15.6 points per game, but the Badgers held him to five
points on 2-for-9 shooting.