Taylor leads No. 10 Wisconsin past Indiana 77-67
So he took over.
Taylor scored a career-high 39 points and almost single-handedly stopped Indiana’s second-half charge, leading No. 10 Wisconsin to a 77-67 victory on Thursday night.
The junior guard accounted for all the Badgers’ points in a decisive 14-4 run that turned a 46-45 lead into a 60-49 advantage midway through the second half.
“When the game started getting close, he just wasn’t going to let us lose or get behind,” Keaton Nankivil said.
Not a chance.
He went 11 for 19 from the field, including a 7-for-8 night from 3-point range, and made all 10 of his free-throw attempts. He fell one point shy of the Assembly Hall record for an opposing player, set by Michigan State’s Terry Furlow in 1976 and matched when the Spartans’ Shawn Respert scored 40 in 1995.
Yet, Taylor still thought he could improve.
“I made some mistakes out there, too,” he said, pointing to his lone turnover in 39 minutes.
The Badgers (23-6, 13-4 Big Ten) now have won eight straight against Indiana, their longest winning streak in the series since an 11-game run from 1912-19. They will carry a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s rematch at No. 1 Ohio State.
Indiana, meanwhile, is reeling. Verdell Jones scored 18 points and Jordan Hulls had 15, but the Hoosiers have lost seven straight overall, four in a row at home, and dropped a Senior Night game for the second time in four years.
The difference Thursday was one player.
“Jordan Taylor flat out had a great performance,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “He made some incredibly challenging shots. He took advantage of us when we missed some assignments, and the biggest thing about a kid like that is he rises up.”
Indiana just couldn’t match up with Taylor’s skills.
“Jordan just did some things that very few people, I think, can do against any team at any time,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. “He created openings, he was ready to pass it but he was also open and he’s got to shoot it when he’s open. He got to the line, attacked, drew the fouls, did everything a point guard should do.”
The Badgers looked as if they had seized control when they extended a 32-28 halftime lead to 41-33 on Nankivil’s three-point play with 16:45 to go.
But Indiana charged back after Jon Leuer drew his third foul at the 16:15 mark. Thirteen seconds after that, Josh Gasser picked up his third foul and Hulls made a 3-pointer. And when Nankivil was called for his third foul with 14:59 to go and Derek Elston made two free throws, Indiana had closed to 43-38.
Will Sheehey made the first of two free throws to get Indiana within one, but he missed the second and Taylor closed the door.
“The game was right there for us, right there for us again,” Crean said. “We didn’t answer the bell.”
Taylor hit a short runner, drew a foul and made the free throw. He followed that with another 3. Then he hit two free throws and back-to-back 3s, helping Wisconsin build an 11-point margin.
Indiana trimmed the lead to six in the closing minutes, but never recovered.
“I just kept trying to play,” Taylor said. “The biggest focus is getting a win always. It just opened up, shots were going down and in the flow of the game that’s how things worked out.”
Nankivil had 16 points and Leuer finished with 10 after scoring only two points in the first half.