UW squeaks by Wofford, will face Cornell Sunday
At the end of UW's 53-49 victory over Wofford Friday, three phrases in my notes were written in all CAPS and stood out above the rest:
MISSING: JASON BOHANNON.
TAYLOR STEAL COULD WIN GAME.
JON LEUER IS GOOD.
It's hard to argue with that last one after the junior forward hit the game-winning shot, forced a turnover and then iced the game at the free throw line in a span of 17 seconds.
But at times Friday, it appeared UW was playing 2-on-5 against Wofford. Somehow the Badgers overcame another poor shooting effort and survived their first-round matchup with the Terriers in Jacksonville, Florida because of the two-headed attack of Jon Leuer and Trevon Hughes.
Hughes got to the basket with ease in the first-half, scoring 10 of the team's first 12 points. He finished with 19.
"I felt like the driving lane was open a lot more in the first half," Hughes said. "In the second half, they made an adjustment and they sagged in the paint and forced us to hit some jump shots."
As has been the case lately, those jump shots didn't fall at a rapid pace.
The Badgers only hit 1-of-9 threes in the game. Jordan Taylor only made 4-of-10 shots. Jason Bohannon was 0-for-4 and didn't score a point. Hughes missed a wide open layup at one point. Mike Brusewitz missed a layup. Jarmusz missed a layup. Then he missed a front-end of a 1-and-1 just seconds later.
Together, Leuer -- who finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting -- and Hughes combined for 39 of UW's 52 points.
And none of those points were bigger than the four Leuer scored in the final 17 seconds.
LEUER IS GOOD
Both Wisconsin and Wofford knew this game was going to be decided by the success or failure of Leuer. The Terriers knew they had to stop him and the Badgers knew they had to expose Wofford's lack of size.
It's safe to say Leuer won the game for Wisconsin.
Wofford never had an answer for the junior forward who beat the Terriers with a variety of post moves, drives and jump shots.
But despite his success, the game was still tied at 49 with 1:17 left after Terry Martin hit 1-of-2 free throws for Wofford. Hughes missed a jumper with 50 seconds left but Nankivil was able to secure the rebound for a second chance. Once again Hughes set up the play, but this time he kicked it out after drawing extra attention.
"When Pop was dribbing up at the top, we kind of made eye contact and just kind of let me know if my guy hopped off he was going to be looking for me," Leuer said.
That's exactly what happened and Leuer knocked down the 17-foot baseline jumper with 17 seconds left, giving Wisconin a two-point lead.
"I was just fortunate to knock it down," he added."And we get to advance."
But they didn't get to advance until the nation's best big man came up with two more huge plays to seal the win.
After Cameron Rundles managed to force a defensive switch on the other end, he tried to get by Leuer on the dribble. That's when Leuer showed his former guard skills by quickly moving his feet, staying in front of Rundles and forcing him to lose the ball out of bounds.
Leuer was then fouled and iced the game at the line with two free throws.
TAYLOR STEAL COULD WIN GAME
While Leuer's jumper was the game-winner, it's hard to imagine a bigger play than Taylor's steal that led to a Hughes layup with 1:54 remaining.
In the official scorebook, the steal was credited to Hughes because he grabbed the loose ball, but it was Taylor who chased down Jamar Diggs from behind and knocked the ball loose just seconds after he had a shot blocked by Martin.
Taylor tapped the ball right to Hughes who went in for the layup, giving Wisconsin a 49-48 lead.
MISSING: JASON BOHANNON
At some point between Senior Night and UW's trip to Champaign nearly two weeks ago, Jason Bohannon was kidnapped.
Can someone put him on a milk carton? Maybe he can be found before Sunday.
In his last three games, Bohannon is a combined 2-for-20 from the field, inclduing 2-of-10 from behind the arc and has only scored a total of nine points.
Obviously Illinois and Wofford have done a good job of defending him, but Bohannon has still missed open looks and Friday, he passed on a couple of open looks.
What's more disturbing is that Bohannon has only made two trips to the free throw line in the last three games, making 3-of-4 free throws.
If Wisconsin is going to beat a great-shooting Cornell team Sunday -- let alone Kentucky in the Sweet 16 -- it's going to need its best shooter to start scoring points.