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Badger Bits: A closer look at Jordan Taylor's regression

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When Jordan Taylor got off to a slow start during the non-conference portion of Wisconsin's 2011-12 season, there was no shortage of excuses. Depending on who you talked to, he was either still shaking off the dust after having his right ankle surgically repaired in the offseason, trying to be more of a distributor to get his less experienced teammates involved or adjusting to life without Jon Leuer.

I don't think anyone doubted Taylor would once again start putting up the kind of numbers that made him a preseason All-American. But now, more than two thirds of the way through season, we're still waiting. We've seen flashes of the old JT -- a 28-point outburst against Michigan State and a nice string of games in the middle of January -- but each time it looks like he's about to turn it around, he has another clunker. He followed up the spirited performance against the Spartans with two straight 12-point efforts and most recently went 5-of-14 from the field for 10 points at home against Indiana.

The fact that teams are keying in on shutting down Taylor more than ever has something to do with it, but he really has been worse in nearly every statistical category. Here are his stats in Big Ten games this season versus his conference-only stats from last season.

2010-11 20.1 4.9 45.3% 4.6 5.1 5.9
2011-12 16.3 3.2 36.0% 2.4 4.7 6.4

You'd expect an experienced point guard like Taylor to find open teammates when he draws a second defender or fails to beat his man, but that hasn't been the case. His assists and assists-to-turnover ratio are way down (though he still leads the conference in the latter) and he's taking more bad shots, shooting a dismal 36 percent from the floor. He has had some success getting to the line, but he's making less of his free throws anyway, making that fact trivial.

It's been a head-scratching season for Wisconsin's best player, but with the Badgers just a game out of first place in the conference, how much does it matter?


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