Taylor rallies UW with legendary performance
MADISON -- Jordan Taylor left everyone speechless, including his head coach.
"I'd like to be able to explain that, but it's hard, even for me," Bo Ryan said.
Just days after being left off the finalist list for the Bob Cousy Award (nation's best point guard), Taylor scored 27 points and dished out seven assists as he willed the Badgers back from a 15-point second-half deficit to beat No. 1 Ohio State 71-67 at the Kohl Center. It was the Buckeyes' first loss of the season.
"What he did right there, I don't think there are too many players in the country that have ever done (that)," Ryan said. "Not just this year, but at any time."
Trailing 47-32 with 13:21 left in the game, Taylor scored 10 points in a 15-0 Wisconsin run that tied the game in just 4:17. The Badger run would increase to 30-8 over the next 4:46 and when it was over, Taylor accounted for 18 points and made all six shots he took, including four threes. His only missed shot in the entire stretch was a missed free throw. And if that wasn't enough, he also registered an assist on 3-of-4 of his teammate's buckets.
When the "Taylor Run" was over, Wisconsin had a seven point lead it would never relinguish.
Taylor's performance was one that not only made the Cousy Award voters look bad, but one that must have had the Naismith Award (nation's best player) voters wondering why they left Taylor off the midseason Top 30 watch list. And if no one had heard of Jordan Taylor before the game, they have now. The Wisconsin point guard was trending worldwide on Twitter just minutes after the game.
"I don't know what the Cousy thing is," the always humble Taylor said after the game. "I didn't know until the day after (it was announced) anyway."
Taylor also deflected the Twitter "honor".
"I don't really pay much attention to that stuff," he said. "It's cool or whatever, but I'm just happy about the win. I'm happy to go have a good time with my teammates and get something to eat."
Fortunately, Jon Leuerhad stronger thoughts about the underappreciation of his point guard.
"I thought he definitely should have been on that (list). I saw that and almost thought it was a joke. He's the best point guard in the Big Ten and maybe the best point guard in the nation," Leuer said.
It's not just the points that suggest Leuer is correct. Taylor still leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio after dishing out seven assists to just one turnover Saturday. But Taylor says all he cares about is wins and from this point on, that's how he can make his mark on the nation: by carrying his team to victories, just like he did Saturday.
There have been larger comebacks in Wisconsin's history, but it would be hard to find one as improbable. After trailing 28-26 at the half, the Badgers had no answer for William Buford and Jared Sullinger. Ohio State opened the second half with a 19-4 run that included eight points from Buford and six points from Sullinger. The Badgers fell behind by 15 and looked tired and lethargic on defense, a rarity for a Bo Ryan coached team no matter how cold the shooting gets.
At that point, it was simple. The Buckeyes looked like the No. 1 team in the country, far and away better than the Badgers, a team that wasn't scared of the Kohl Center.
That's what made Taylor's performance so special. He willed his team to a comeback when every ounce of evidence from this season pointed to a runaway Ohio State victory.
"What Jordan did in the second half was read every opportunity, almost flawlessly," Ryan said.
Gasser and Bruiser chip in
Jon Leuer finished the game with only 12 points, well below his season average of 19.1 points per game. He only made 5-of-14 shots and as good as Taylor was, credit must be given to freshman Josh Gasser and sophomore Mike Bruesewitz who stepped up as Leuer struggled.
Bruesewitz finished the game with 12 points and hit 4-of-5 shots including a three-pointer with 29 seconds left that put the Badgers up 68-63, proving to be the game-winner.
Gasser also finished 4-of-5 from the field, hitting all three threes he took in the game to finish with 11 points.
Toppling No. 1
Saturday's win marked the eighth time since 1969-70 that a school beat an AP No. 1 team in both football and basketball in the same school year.
It was also only the second time the defeated AP No. 1 school was the same in both sports. The only other time that happened was 2006-07 when Florida registered two AP No. 1 wins over who? Ohio State.