Lucas at Large: CBS' Kellogg impressed after seeing Badgers, Taylor

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Maybe it was only poetic justice.

The last time Clark Kellogg was at courtside for a UW game, the opponent couldn't miss. Or so it seemed. Cornell shot 61 percent from the field, 53 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 13-of-16 from the free throw line.

That was in the second round of last season's NCAA tournament.

Kellogg was at courtside Sunday at the Kohl Center. And this time, he saw the UW shooters at their finest as the Badgers shot 59 percent from the field, 65 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 25-of-26 from the free throw line.

The result was a convincing 82-56 win over Michigan State.

Taylor_2011.jpg"That's as impressive of a performance as I've seen all year long in terms of efficiency and doing the things that play to their strengths," said the 49-year-old Kellogg, the lead analyst for CBS's coverage of college basketball. "When you make shots like they did that obviously adds to it."

What did Kellogg like the most about the UW's dominating performance?

"I liked their versatility," said Kellogg, who succeeded Billy Packer and has made a seamless transition to being Jim Nantz' partner on the Final Four. "I liked the fact that they have two go-to guys in (Jon) Leuer and (Jordan) Taylor. I also liked what (Keaton) Nankivil adds and brings to the table."

Taylor and Leuer combined to make 16-of-27 shots and scored 50 points, or six fewer points than Michigan State did as a team "Taylor and Leuer are the kind of guys you have to have," Kellogg said, "to make a significant tournament run. They are players who can make plays when you need them."

When it was suggested to Kellogg that Taylor, who finished with a career high 30 points, has drawn little or no recognition nationally for his overall play as a point guard, Kellogg laughed and said, "It's almost kind of like Bo (Ryan)."

Kellogg then shared his observations on Taylor, who scored baskets on Kalin Lucas, Keith Appling, Durrell Summers, Mike Kebler and Draymond Green.

"I love his strength and poise," Kellogg said Taylor. "He doesn't really ever seem to be out of control. He has a comfortable pace that he plays with. But his strength is the big separator to me because when you're that size and that strong you can play through contact especially at this level.

"If he gets smaller guys like he had out there today - Lucas and Appling - those guys aren't strong enough to deal with him."

Kellogg, who starred at Ohio State, was a first round draft choice of the Indiana Pacers. Knee injuries cut short his NBA career. Given the exposure that Leuer received over the summer against the pros, what's his perspective on Leuer's future? Does he believe that Leuer can make it at the next level?

"I think so, he's a pick-and- pop guy," Kellogg said. "He has excellent skills. He moves well and shoots well. And he can rebound. He's got a little back-to-the-basket game, too. He's going to have a chance to play in the NBA. Will he be a rotation player? I look at him as one - a top eight on a decent team."

The Badgers were picked for the second division of the Big Ten by the so-called basketball experts. Why do they continue to excel under Ryan?

"They have a terrific program here and anytime you have that you're always going to be competitive," Kellogg said. "They're always going to be in the first division of the Big Ten because of the players that Bo gets and the way that he develops them. How people perceive Wisconsin is going to fluctuate."

The one thing you can count on from Ryan-coached teams, Kellogg said, is  the Badgers "are going to end up being in the upper division of the conference every year and now and then they're going to play to win the Big Ten."

Who's going to win the national championship this season? Kellogg listed a handful of teams that fall in the upper tier: Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Duke. "Outside of them, there's not a lot of separation," he said.

Everyone else looks pretty much the same, Kellogg said, listing BYU, San Diego State, Florida, Washington, Arizona and Wisconsin as teams that fall under that heading. "You could pick a dozen to 15 teams," he said, "that based on the matchups could make a two game or three game run in the tournament."

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