Big Ten POY candidate drops career-best 39 points in Badger victory
Stuck without his dribble and no time on the shot clock, Jordan Taylor released a fade away 3-pointer over 6'8" Christian Watford that found its target like a heat-seeking missile. At that moment, with 4:51 remaining in the first half, you had a feeling it might be Taylor's night.
The three points were a part of a seven-and-a-half minute stretch in which Taylor went shot for shot with the entire Indiana team, scoring 12 straight points to allow the No. 10 Badgers (23-6, 13-4 Big Ten) to take a four point lead into halftime over the Hoosiers (12-18, 3-14).
Taylor was not done yet though. With both Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil spending time on the bench with foul trouble, Taylor carried the Badgers with an even better second-half spurt. The junior guard poured in 17 straight points in less than five minutes to extend UW's 48-45 lead to a 63-50 edge with a little over six minutes left. All told, Taylor scored 20 of his team's 22 points during the stretch en route to a 77-67 Badger win in Bloomington.
Taylor's career-best 39 points were the third-highest total in Wisconsin history and the second-highest output in the Big Ten this season.
The Hoosiers gave a commendable effort against the Badger attack. In particular, Victor Oladipo was tenacious on Taylor. Make no mistake, Taylor to work hard for everything he got. Yet he could hardly do any wrong Thursday night and put in the effort to get every variety of shot he wanted. Taylor wound up shooting 58% from the field, not to mention converting all 10 of his free throws.
In contrast, Indiana found themselves with a number of easy looks and layups, but simply could not convert enough of them. Wisconsin appeared a little slow to rotate defensively at times and exacerbated the problems by committing some unwise fouls
The Badgers helped their own cause, however, by out-rebounding Indiana (29-23) and grabbing several back-breaking offensive rebounds to lengthen possessions. Of Wisconsin's nine offensive boards, only two failed to result in an eventual score.
Without Taylor's outburst, Wisconsin almost certainly would have fallen victim to Indiana's upset bid. The game was fairly slow moving due to the 41 fouls called. It was a challenging night for Leuer, who scored his first points to put UW up 32-28 with 30 seconds left in the first half. He was forced to sit out a four-minute chunk of the second half after picking up his third foul, and promptly picked up his fourth foul with 11:37 remaining after returning for just 15 seconds. Leuer then sat for the next eight minutes, finishing with 10 points.
But Nankivil picked up the slack again, adding 16 points of his own. Nankivil and Taylor combined to shoot a scorching 9-for-12 from 3-point land while the rest of the Badgers went 0-for-4. Taylor tied a school record by hitting 7-of-8 himself.
Though Taylor had to create his own offense and only had one assist, he continued to take incredible care of the ball. He turned the ball over just once to maintain his nation-leading 4.02 assist-to-turnover ratio. Taylor's performance cemented his spot on the All-Big Ten First Team, solidified his name in the conversation for league player of the year and helped continue to put himself on the minds of voters for national honors.
Verdell Jones led Indiana with 18 points, while Jordan Hulls added 15. The Hoosiers committed only five turnovers on the night, but shot only 18% on 3-pointers.