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Jeff Eisenberg

Behind Jordan Taylor's heroics, Wisconsin holds off Minnesota

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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In a hotel bar somewhere in the Midwest, Bob Knight is probably still gushing about the shot fake Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor unveiled late in Tuesday night's victory over rival Minnesota.

With the Badgers clinging to a one-point lead and less than 90 seconds to go in the second half, Taylor forced 7-foot Ralph Sampson III to switch on him and then tried to beat him off the dribble. Cognizant that Sampson had swatted away one of his previous layup attempts, Taylor shot faked in the lane, drew a foul and converted a three-point play with 1:12 left to propel Wisconsin to a hard-fought 68-60 victory over the Gophers.

"I should have known the first time," Taylor said in a postgame interview on ESPN2. "Coach preaches the shot fake. I just tried to learn from that and make the play the second time."

The late three-point play from Taylor capped a brilliant performance from the junior point guard. Taylor overcame a poor outside shooting night to score 22 points, dish out seven assists and commit only one turnover, helping Wisconsin win despite a 37-24 rebounding disadvantage against the taller, longer Gophers.

After a breakout sophomore season in which he averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 assists, Taylor has upped those numbers to 15.4 and 4.8 so far this season and is shooting a career-best 41.2 percent from behind the arc as well. It was enough for ESPN analyst Dan Dakich to declare him the Big Ten's best point guard on Tuesday, ahead of the likes of Kalin Lucas from Michigan State or Demetri McCamey of Illinois.

Whether or not Taylor is worthy of that title, his playmaking and outside shooting provide Wisconsin a perimeter complement to Jon Leuer.

Much like the Badgers are perennially underrated nationally, it's time for Taylor to stop flying under the radar as well.

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