Dec. 28, 2010
Star of the Game – You could tell that Jordan Taylor really wanted this game. The junior from Bloomington, Minn. had an 0-3 record against his home-state Gophers heading into Tuesday night’s Big Ten opener. He now has one in the win column after scoring a game-high 22 points and dishing seven assists with just one turnover in No. 24 Wisconsin’s 68-60 win over No. 13 Minnesota.
Taylor missed his first three shots, but his first basket – a 3-point shot 12 minutes into the game – seemed to ignite him and the team. The triple helped UW erase a five-point deficit and take a 21-19 lead. From there, Taylor sunk five more buckets and went 8-for-9 from the free throw line.
Play of the Game – If you ask Jon Leuer, the Play of the Game was Taylor’s incredible “and-one” basket with 1:12 remaining. If you ask Taylor, the Play of the Game was Leuer’s offensive rebound that essentially allowed UW to run out the game. Either way, both were critical.
Taylor’s heroic left-handed lay-in and ensuing free throw put Wisconsin ahead by four, giving the Badgers a critical two-possession lead at 62-58. The Gophers would not get closer than two points the rest of the way.
The offensive rebound Taylor was referring to came in the final minute with UW protecting a two-point lead. Taylor heaved a 3-pointer late in the shot clock, but Leuer came up with the rebound off the front of the rim. Instead of giving Minnesota the ball back with 26 seconds left to tie or take the lead, Leuer was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws. Game over.
Turning Point of the Game – In a game that featured six ties and seven lead changes, there were many momentum swings. None was bigger than Keaton Nankivil’s 3-pointer that gave UW a 56-54 lead with 6:17 remaining. Coming out of a timeout, the two-man game between Taylor and Leuer seemed to stall, but Leuer kicked it out to an open Nankivil late in the shot clock and the senior drained the long range bomb.
The Badgers never trailed again after that moment and held Minnesota to just six points in the final 6 minutes of action.
Stat of the Game – Tough call between UW’s two turnovers and the Badgers’ 17-for-18 performance at the free throw line. We’ll go with the turnover stat.
The last time Minnesota came into the Kohl Center and pulled out a 78-74 overtime win on Jan. 15, 2009, they forced the Badgers into 18 turnovers. This time, UW handled the pressure much better, posting a season-low two turnovers. Tuesday night, the starting backcourt duo of Taylor and freshman Josh Gasser combined to dish out 10 assists and cough up just one turnover.