Current point guard Jordan Taylor learned from the graduated seniors mistake. The Minnesota-native dominated in every facet of the game Tuesday night, scoring the ball to the tune of 22 points, dishing out seven assists against one turnover and forcing No.14 Minnesota to play at Wisconsin's pace for 40 minutes as UW went on to win its Big Ten opener 68-60.
The rest of the team followed Taylor's example of heady play, with the Badgers turning the ball over just twice all game and knocking down 17-of-18 free throws.
But it was Taylor Time that stole the show and earned the win.
"Not only in terms of actual basketball but the aggressiveness with how he plays is really controlling for how as a team we play," UW senior Keaton Nankivil said. "Tonight, I saw he push through some fatigue and play a lot of minutes against some very tough guards. As a teammate, to see him do that it really inspires us to keep going."
"He does everything you want a point guard to do," UW senior Jon Leuer added.
After missing his first three shots to start the game, Taylor toyed with the Minnesota guards for the rest of the night. With eight minutes left in the first half, Taylor scored on three consecutive possessions — a three-pointer, a runner in the lane and a driving layup — along with drawing a charge during the stretch. He took it to Devoe Joseph two possessions later to earn a trip to the free throw line.
Taylor then managed to top that stretch at the end of the second half with the Badgers leading by one point with roughly 1:30 remaining in the game. After taking 20 or so seconds off the shot clock, Taylor drove the lane hard and drew two Minnesota bigs to him. One hard pump fake and he got seven-footer Ralph Sampson III into the air. Taylor took the contact and spun the ball off the backboard for an old-school three-point play, giving UW a four point lead with 70 seconds remaining in the game.
Wisconsin was able to ice the game one possession later after Jon Leuer hauled in an offensive rebound with 26 seconds left in the game, knocking down both free throw attempts on the one-and-one.
Predictably, both players deferred credit to the other teammate for the "play of the game."
"It was a momentum swing, but I still think the biggest play of the game was Jon's offensive rebound," Taylor said. "We were up two and that rebound allows us to get the ball and shoot free throws for the rest of the way out."
"I think that the and-one was a bigger play," Leuer countered. "That was a time when the game was really close … I just saw the ball go off the backboard and drop in and I was very excited at that point."