A Taylor-Made Comeback

Jordan Taylor put on a virtuoso performance Saturday as the thirteen-ranked Badgers came back from down 15 to hand No. 1 Ohio State its first loss of the season, 71-67, on Saturday.

MADISON — As students rushed the Kohl Center court Saturday in a dizzying display of déjà vu, they managed to do what no Ohio State defender could handle:

Jordan Taylor was finally stopped.

The Wisconsin point guard finished the game with a surreal stat line, putting up 27 points — on a crazy efficient 13 total shots — to go along with seven assists against one turnover as the Badgers handed No. 1 Ohio State its first loss of the season, 71-67.

But the point and assist totals provide just a shallow glimpse of the virtuoso performance Taylor put on.

With Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3 Big Ten) trailing by 15 with 13 minutes left, and the crowd just begging for a reason to get back in the game, Taylor drilled three jumpers (two threes) on consecutive possessions to raise the noise level to deafening and trim the lead to seven.

After Ohio State (24-1, 11-1) called a timeout to slow Taylor's roll, the junior point guard conducted Wisconsin's first and last fast break of the day, finding Mike Bruesewitz under the basket to force a Buckeyes foul. Bruesewitz knocked down both the free throws, before Taylor scored on another runner and assisted on a Josh Gasser 3-pointer on the next two possessions.

All told, and Taylor conducted a 15-point come back in three and a half minutes of game clock.

"I would like to be able to explain that, but it is hard, even for me and I see him every day," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "Just good decision after good decision. Not because they ball went in the net, but he read whether or not he was open, whether or not their was separation.

"What he did right there, I don't think there are to many players in the country who have ever done [that]. Not just this year, but at any time."

With Taylor directing the offense like a young maestro, the Badgers abandoned their "swing offense" and went exclusively to ball-screen action in the second half. Matched up against Aaron Craft — who Taylor called the "best defender in the Big Ten" — the UW point guard took advantage of the special attention to find teammates open for three-pointers.

They knocked them down.

UW went 12-of-24 from 3-point range, while Ohio State made just 3-of-9. Josh Gasser continued his second-half of the season resurgence with 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc. Bruesewitz chipped in 12 points as well, going 2-for-2 from three and 4-of-5 on the day.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said after the contest, his team's goal was to rotate on defense and make Bruesewitz beat them.

Bruesewitz nailed his second three with 29 seconds left to put the Badgers up five and make that wish come true.

"I was like, oh well, I guess I am open, I am just going to shoot this and knock it down," Bruesewitz said, comically underscoring what may have been the biggest shot of the game.

Still, few Wisconsin shots would have been open if Taylor didn't command the eyes of every Buckeyes player.

"I don't know exactly what we could have done a whole lot different," OSU head coach Thad Matta said when asked about his team's defense.

Wisconsin topped a No. 1 opponent for the first time since 1962, when it was also Ohio State. The Badgers joined Florida as the only programs to knock off the same No. 1 school in both football and men's basketball in the same academic year. In a touch of irony, the Gators beat, Ohio State in both sports in 2006-07.

Fans at the sold-out Kohl Center stormed the court, just like when they rushed the field at Camp Randall Stadium following the Badgers' 31-18 win there over then-No. 1 Ohio State on Oct. 16.

Just like in that contest, the crowd picked up the UW players when they needed an extra boost.

After Taylor knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the game — a good three steps behind the arc — and let out a primal scream while pounding his chest, the Kohl Center could be felt shaking under the stamping feet of students and alumni alike.

For Taylor, whose facial expression usually ranges from detached to curious, it was a testament to the elation of the situation. Ryan said after the game he doesn't think any team comes back down 15 on the road against Ohio State.

"Our fans willed us on," Ryan said. "I'm all for it. I'm a big cheerleader.

"I just think its Madison, Wisconsin. It's the University of Wisconsin. I can't tell you what it meant to get the head job here after having been here as an assistant … just the people and the way this school is and what it represents, it is all pretty good."

As with the football victory, every player did his part.

Jared Sullinger scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, but the stat doesn't cover the amount of times Nankivil denied the freshman phenom position in the post. Ryan Evans hit a jumper to stem the tide when Ohio State was cruising. Tim Jarmusz helped limit the David Lighty and Jon Diebler to nine shots combined.

"To do what they did, to have those kind of legs and lungs, to get back from that lead that Ohio State had, and then get the lead ourselves. I don't know what else you can say about these guys and how tough they are," Ryan said.

But none of it would have been possible without the exemplary play from Taylor.

"He is the best point guard in the Big Ten, may be the best point guard in the nation. He deserves all the recognition he gets," Leuer said.

"It's unbelievable and something you remember forever," Taylor added.

Badger Nation Top Stories