Something to Smile About

Jordan Taylor might cause a Bob Cousy revote. The junior guard, since being snubbed from the finalists list, has gone for 30 points against the Spartans, willed his team over Iowa and saved his best for last, leading a big second-half to upend No.1 Ohio State.

MADISON – The words ‘flashy' and ‘Wisconsin' seldom coincide in the same sentence. It's simply not the Midwest way, or the way Bo Ryan coaches his basketball teams.

From UW-Platteville, where he won four Division III national championships, to Wisconsin, where he's won five Big Ten championships in 10 years, Ryan's patented swing offense demands patience, unselfishness and balance.

But when the struggles within the system lead to a 15-point deficit, patience be damned.

"It all goes back to staying aggressive and staying confident," Taylor said. "It's a big key for us."

Taylor won't publicly admit that being omitted from the 10 Bob Cousy finalists was a snub – he claims to not even know what the award is, further justification that the award is flawed. His head coach won't either; it's not the Wisconsin way. He also won't admit that his last three performances, especially his personal whipping of the country's top dogs, is some sort of vindication.

His teammates don't see it that way in the least.

"I heard that and thought that was a joke," senior forward Jon Leuer said. "He's the best point guard in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country."

As impressive as Taylor's 27 points were to helping No.13 Wisconsin knock off No.1 Ohio State, 71-67, Saturday at the Kohl Center, it takes a backseat to the 30-8 run he executed that was a thing of sheer dominance.

Taylor scored from every conceivable angle – driving into the paint, pull-up jumpers with hands in his face and one-dribble missiles from the perimeter. He scored 8 straight, hitting a floater and two deep 3-pointers, and 18 of 30 to help Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3 Big Ten) erase what was once a 15-point deficit with 13:21 remaining.

In eight second-half minutes, Wisconsin equaled its entire first-half production.

"If people don't take that and frame it for a one game performance, what he did right there, I don't think there too many players in the country has ever done, not just this year, but at time against the number one team in the country," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "He just did everything."

All the rage throughout the Big Ten conference this season is how to stop Ohio State super freshman Jared Sullinger, who has been a one-man wrecking crew for conference opposition. He's won the freshman of the week honor 11 times, scored in double figured 14 straight games and is a shoe-in lottery pick should he decide to make the leap.

But while Wisconsin got its licks from Sullinger, Ohio State and Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes best defensive weapon, simply couldn't not defend what Sullinger called the ‘undefend-able.'

"Craft is like the secret service because he can guard the president, but Jordan Taylor is a great basketball player," said Sullinger, who added 19. "With a team like that, with a point guard like that and with the shots he was making, it was hard to stop."

It was the furthest thing on the minds of Ohio State (24-1, 11-1) after the Buckeyes weathered the raucous atmosphere early to orchestrate a 23-6 run that was created by the hot hand of William Buford, who scored 15 of his 21 in that stretch. Ohio State got its shooting percentage up to 62 percent, won the rebounding battle (25-24), dominated the paint (24-16) and committed only seven turnovers.

But when Buford cooled, Taylor heated up, and he never let the Buckeyes get their traction back.

"I've never seen him make threes back-to-back-to-back like that," fifth-year senior David Lighty (8 points) said. "He gave his team a boost, lit a fire under all of them and it was the difference in the game."

Taylor's monotone attitude and can-do approach is nothing new. Even when he was one of the hottest recruits in the Midwest and even after being named Minnesota 2008 Mr. Basketball after averaging 22.3 points and 7.1 assists per game and leading Benilde-St. Margaret to Class AAA title, Taylor came to Madison on his visit to try an impress his future head coach.

"A lot of young men don't do that nowadays," Ryan said. "A lot of recruits go, ‘Hey, you've got to impress me.' They don't say that, but the demeanor (does) … When you do what he did in high school, you know you've got something."

Wisconsin's athletic communication tried to ensure all the good-luck mojo was in the building from the opening tip. The student section was full 30 minutes before tip for the first time all season and waving white towels branded with the red motion ‘W.'

Before taking the floor, the video board showed highlights on Wisconsin football's victory over No.1 Ohio State on Oct.16 and former UW coach John Erickson, who led the Badgers to a victory over Jerry Lucas' and John Havlicek's No.1 Ohio State team in 1962, was named the honorary coach.

Taylor was at last October's football game with his teammates and remembers the feelings when he got to go on the field, calling it a special memory.

As jubilant students crowded around him and hoisting him on their shoulders, Taylor had a new memory to enjoy, especially since he was the man responsible for the bedlam.

"Just to be in another a court-rusher game like that is unbelievable," Taylor said. "It's something you remember forever."

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