MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was stunned by just how open Purdue left some of his outside shooters Wednesday night.
That was by design, and it nearly worked.
“Kam Taylor and Brian Butch have never been left that wide open from 3-point range,” Ryan said. “That might be the new strategy.”
On an off night for main scoring threats Taylor and Alando Tucker, Michael Flowers scored 15 points and center Jason Chappell hit two key 3-pointers as the second-ranked Badgers beat the Boilermakers 69-64 on Wednesday night.
It was the 14th consecutive victory for the Badgers (18-1, 4-0 Big Ten), who have the nation’s longest winning streak and are enjoying the highest ranking in school history. But it didn’t come easily as a late Purdue rally fell short.
Gordon Watt had 18 points for the Boilermakers (13-6, 2-3), who haven’t won on the road in nearly three years.
Purdue coach Matt Painter was happy with his team’s effort in a tough environment, but said he didn’t believe in moral victories.
“I thought our guys were good tonight,” Painter said. “But I thought they needed to be special to get the victory.”
Trying to pull off an unlikely road win, Painter told his team to focus on taking away Tucker and Taylor and challenge Wisconsin’s role players to beat them.
“I have all the respect in the world for those guys,” Painter said. “I’m not saying the other guys can’t score, because I think they can.”
And they did, at least when it counted.
Purdue’s defense held Tucker and Taylor to a combined 7-for-26 from the field, although both made enough free throws to finish with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Taylor was 0-for-6 from 3-point range, but Ryan expects him to rebound quickly.
“Kam, I think he’ll have one of those games again where he’s like 4-of-6 from 3,” Ryan said.
Ryan said he saw Tucker get frustrated by physical play at times.
“Tuck’s been played tough by a lot of other teams, too,” Ryan said. “But the Big Ten, they’re going to take certain things away.”
Tucker said the fact that other players stepped up was a key to the Badgers’ continued success this season.
“Me and Kammron looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, that’s what we need,”’ Tucker said.
Despite all those open outside shots, Wisconsin was only 3-for-17 from 3-point range—and two of them came from their 6-foot-10 center.
Chappell hit a 3-pointer to put the Badgers ahead 40-39 with 13:32 remaining, Wisconsin’s first lead of the second half.
Ryan said Chappell has the green light to shoot 3-pointers under certain circumstances.
“Jason decided, ‘Well, why not me?”’ Ryan said.
Chappell’s shot touched off a 16-4 run midway through the second half— though there wasn’t much actual running involved, as the Badgers methodically opened up a 10-point lead over nearly 6 minutes.
Flowers scored eight points during the run, including a haphazard shot as he was stumbling out of bounds that fell in to put the Badgers ahead 51-43. Tucker later scored on an inside move to push the Badgers’ lead to 10 with 7:47 remaining.
But the Badgers struggled to put away the Boilermakers. Tucker said the Badgers have to be more aggressive at the end of games.
“We’re doing enough to pull out wins, but it’s only so long that you have,” Tucker said.
Keaton Grant’s fast break layup with 39 seconds left brought the Boilermakers within 67-62. Taylor made one of two free throws for Wisconsin with 36 seconds left. Purdue missed and rebounded two 3-point attempts, finally settling for a putback by Carl Landry that made it 68-64 with 4.3 seconds left.
Landry scored 16 points for Purdue in his first-ever matchup with younger brother Marcus, a sophomore at Wisconsin. Both brothers played high school basketball in the Milwaukee area.
“I always win,” Carl Landry said. “But today, little bro came out on top, I guess.”
The younger Landry has been particularly effective on defense, blocking seven shots in the Badgers’ previous two games—and he got a big block on his big brother early in the second half, using his right hand to slap the ball away from the rim as Carl Landry drove on the left baseline with 14:34 remaining.
“He wasn’t able to push me around, I’ll tell you that much,” said Marcus Landry, who had four points and five rebounds.
Purdue hasn’t won a road game since a 65-47 victory at Iowa on Feb. 21, 2004. The streak began with a loss at Wisconsin eight days later.