Badgers ‘Boiler up’ to defeat No. 4 Purdue

first_imgDespite an early left wrist injury, junior forward Jon Leuer gave the Badgers plenty of help defensively and on the boards.[/media-credit]Hosting an undefeated conference rival and the then-No. 4 team in the country, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team proved it could beat a strong opponent with almost no offensive contribution from the Badger’s’ second leading scorer, junior forward Jon Leuer.Besides providing a big boost in the conference race and a shiny looking win to pair with the Duke victory for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the 73-66 victory over Purdue on Jan. 9 should provide a shot of confidence for UW as it moves forward without Leuer for an indefinite amount of time.With starters, Trevon Hughes and Keaton Nankivil limited by foul trouble (four each), and starting forward Tim Jarmusz ineffective (zero points, one rebound), it was the Badger bench that carried the day.The Wisconsin reserves poured in 33 points off the bench — including a career high of 23 from sophomore guard Jordan Taylor — but more importantly brought tenacious energy and held on to a one-point lead heading into halftime.“You can only start five, so when you say the bench, I have always thought the bench should give every bit of the same thing as the starters,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said.“If you look at that number of our bench scoring and their bench scoring it pops out as a huge differential. But if you look at successful teams, successful programs over time, you tend to struggle a little bit.”Whether Ryan wanted to put the ball in the hands of Taylor or not became a moot point when Hughes picked up his second foul — a boneheaded reaching foul after Hughes turned the ball over — and forced Ryan to sit Hughes for the remainder of the half.Stalled by the Boilermakers’ pressure defense for most of the half, Taylor took the game into his own hands, scoring all 13 of his first half points in the final 6:33 before the buzzer sounded. Able to repeatedly beat Purdue guard Chris Kramer off the dribble, Taylor was able to score from the lane on a variety of floaters, pull-ups and contested lay-ins.“As much as they pressured, it’s not that difficult to get in the lane,” Taylor said. “It’s more difficult when you get in the lane to make the right decision and when to make the right decision. I think that Pop (Hughes) and I can get around a lot of guys in the country and most guards in the country.“It’s not about getting around the first guy, it’s about getting around the second guy. I made some bad decisions in the beginning but I just try to get better throughout the game.”Though Nankivil only saw the floor for 10 minutes this game, his one contribution was a big one.With the Badgers leading 34-31, Nankivil missed a short hook under the basket and missed the following put-back before quickly gathering himself for an explosive dunk.The normally even-keeled Nankivil let out a roar of emotion as the Kohl Center exploded, causing Purdue head coach Matt Painter to take a quick timeout to try and stem the tide of emotion flowing for UW.It didn’t work.Over the next three minutes Wisconsin pushed the lead out to 13 points and Purdue would never get closer then five points again.“It was a statement,” Hughes said of Nankivil’s athletic finish. “We weren’t going to be pushed around on our home court. It definitely gave us momentum after that and got the crowd into it, and you definitely have to get the crowd into it when you are at home.”With Taylor carrying the offense for most of the first half, seniors Jason Bohannon and Hughes gave the team a lift in the second period.Getting a combined 20 points from the duo, timely baskets and clutch free throws kept the Boilermakers at bay for the second half. Even more impressive, the senior pair needed only 13 total shots to combine for 34 points.Bohannon also played 40 minutes and chipped in three blocks to go with his 20 points.“[Wisconsin’s] guards were very efficient,” Painter said. “We simply couldn’t stop them. It wasn’t that they were doing anything that surprised us, it’s just they were making smarter plays, one-on-one plays creating for themselves and creating for teammates.”Besides dominant guard play, the Boilermakers gave the Badgers some help with horrendous shooting from the charity stripe. Wisconsin went to the line 27 times and Purdue reached 24 — the difference in the game being Wisconsin connected on 81 percent of its foul shots while Purdue shot merely 54 percent.“The free throw shooting killed us in the first half,” Painter said.“If we could have made our free throws, we could have had the lead at half and had momentum. That was an important part of the game.”last_img

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