Taylor’s 28 points carry Badgers over Hoosiers

first_imgPoint guard Jordan Taylor carried the Badgers, scoring 17 points in the first half alone to keep UW in the game until the second half.[/media-credit]In the first half of Thursday night’s showdown with Indiana (10-9, 1-5), the No. 17/18 Wisconsin Badgers (14-4, 4-2) faced a lights-out Hoosiers attack. Fortunately for the Badgers, they had Jordan Taylor to carry the load – and not just for the first half, as UW prevailed 69-60 at the Kohl Center.Taylor led all scorers with a career-high 28 points on remarkable 9-15 shooting, including 3-6 from three-point range and a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. In the first half, the Badgers’ junior point guard scored 17 points – Jon Leuer had nine at the break – and nobody else on the team had more than two points. Needless to say, Taylor was crucial for UW.“I don’t think it’s just this game, I think he’s been doing it,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said of Taylor. “I think Jordan Taylor’s not only one of the premier guards in the league – that’s obvious. I think he’s one of the premier guards in the country, and it’s not just because he played great tonight.”While Crean was gushing about Taylor after the game, he likely had a different picture in his mind at halftime, as his Hoosiers were leading 34-30. Fittingly enough, it was Taylor who scored the first basket of the game. Leuer tipped the ball to Keaton Nankivil to begin the game, and when Taylor received the ball from him at the top of the key, he drove left and surged straight through the paint for an easy layup.Wisconsin was up 2-0, but that would be their biggest lead of the first half. At the 18:30 mark, Leuer scored his first points on an easy jumper to even the score at four. Yet after Indiana’s Jordan Hulls converted a layup on the next possession, the Hoosiers built a lead that they would not relinquish until 13:18 in the second half.“They hit some tough jump shots,” Ryan said of Indiana. “They’re a very good jump shooting team. When they’re stroking it like that, we needed to be a little tighter. We didn’t do that.”Indeed, the Hoosiers’ offensive attack was firing on all cylinders. IU entered the game second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.492) and tied for third in scoring (75.2). True to their word, the Hoosiers shot 14-23 (60.9 percent) from the floor in the first half while also sinking 2-4 three-point attempts. Wisconsin was also hot – the Badgers were 13-25 (52 percent) from the floor and 4-9 (44.4 percent) from behind the arc.In the second half – as they have for much of the Big Ten season – the Badgers came out with a stronger performance. After Hulls – who led Indiana in scoring with 16 points on 7-12 shooting – nailed a jumper to extend the score to 36-30. The two teams traded baskets the next four possessions, and then Christian Watford fouled Nankivil as he was going up for a putback attempt at the 16:04 mark. Nankivil – who finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks – converted both free throws, and the Badgers were within four, 42-38.“We were attacking the basket a little more and just trying to finish at the rim,” Leuer said.“A couple times early, they got past our guys, and we didn’t do a good job stopping them from getting to the rim,” Ryan said. “We gave up a few of those early, and that doesn’t put a smile on my face – I don’t think on anybody on our team, either. So we corrected that a little bit and got better at that.”Watford, Indiana’s leading scorer on the season – he finished with 10 points – sunk a jumper on the next play to even the score at 44 with 13 minutes left to play. The score was evened against at 46 one minute later, but Wisconsin had the momentum. The dagger came with one minute remaining, as Taylor drove the lane, was stopped and shoved the ball to Leuer, who had trouble corralling it amidst the defensive pressure. Leuer gathered it though, and with the shot clock expiring, banked a turnaround, fadeaway jumper as he was fouled. Leuer hit the free throw, putting UW ahead 65-58 and effectively ending IU’s hopes of leaving Madison with a win.“I thought the back-breaking play was Leuer’s play as the shot clock was winding down when he banked it in and got the foul call,” Crean said. “We had done almost everything right on that possession … that was a tough one.”last_img read more