When the two teams met Feb. 1, Evans surprised the Boilermakers, and himself a little bit, with his 10-point performance that was punctuated with the go-ahead basket with 50 seconds remaining and a slam dunk in the final seconds to seal the victory.
A little over two weeks later, Evans was at it again, both playing and speaking maturely.
Evans tried to be the catalyst for No.10 Wisconsin on what is becoming a trend of an off night on the road. The sophomore from Phoenix scored eight of his 11 points after halftime and grabbed six rebounds in a college-high 28 minutes, one of the few bright spots in a 70-62 defeat Wednesday.
"We knew coming in to Purdue, it's a tough team (and) tough to play here," Evans said. "We knew they were going to come out strong and we didn't quite match it."
Wisconsin (19-6, 9-4 Big Ten) had found success of late getting production from unsuspecting sources, but Evans was the only role player that made any sort of a dent against a swarming Boilermakers defense that forced UW into three shot clock violations and eight turnovers.
Outside of Evans and leading scorers Jon Leuer (23 points on 10-for-18 shooting) and Jordan Taylor (15 points, 5-for-9),the other seven players that saw minutes combined to shoot 5-for-24 (20.8 percent).
"We weren't able to knock down shots this game, but those will fall," Evans said.
It was a tough loss for Wisconsin (19-6, 9-4 Big Ten) in terms of the conference race, as the Badgers now sit in third place, one game behind Purdue (21-5, 10-3) and three games behind Ohio State (25-1, 12-1). Despite that and including the victory Saturday over the Buckeyes, Evans believes the Badgers are getting more production from the bench and his team is peaking at the right time heading into March.
"You've always got to stay positive," he said. "I'm a positive person. And you've got to be able to take the positive things out of a loss. I think we're going to go back, we're going to watch the film and we're going to get on to the next game.
"And like I said, it's all about peaking at the right time and we've got the tools to get some hardware this year. I really believe that."
Wisconsin's schedule sets up for a strong finish, as four of the Badgers' final five games are against teams that currently have a sub-.500 record in the conference.
"To finish in the top half of the Big Ten, the last couple weeks battling for a championship ... those were my goals then and they haven't changed now," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "We've got to bounce back and get the next one. We're still going to try to finish as high in the Big Ten as we can."
Taylor Gets Cousy Recognition
Apparently, all the work Jordan Taylor did after getting overlooked finally forced the hand of the Cousy committee to avoid any further embarrassment.
Taylor's name was quietly added to the original list of 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the top point guard in the nation, on Wednesday morning, giving the lists 11 names.
According to the Basketball Hall of Fame, which oversees the award, Taylor played his way onto the list of finalists after he scored 30 and 27 points, respectively, in victories over Michigan State and top-ranked Ohio State last week. Taylor hit 8 of 12 three-pointers and 17 of 26 field-goal attempts overall in the two victories and was named the conference's player of the week last week.
Ballots were submitted by Feb. 1 and a UW source said explained the list was allowed to be altered and Taylor's performance last week certainly justified that honor. Curiously, fans that logged on to the site to cast their vote for the award could not vote for Taylor, as he had yet to be listed as one of the voting options.
Neither Ryan nor Taylor addressed the nomination after the game.
Unable to Dial Long Distance
Because of senior Keaton Nankivil's hot hand at Mackey Arena last season, hitting 5-for-5 3-point shots a year ago, the Badgers nearly stole a road win with Leuer sidelined because of injury. This time around, Nankivil couldn't connect, going 1-for-6 from the arc and finished with five points.
It's become a growing trend as of late for Nankivil, who is stuck in a minor slump. After ranking second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 49.4 percent (38-of-77) entering last weekend, Nankivil is now 2 for his last 12, but Ryan brushed off the notion that it's a technique problem.
"That's all we need to do with Keaton is talk about a technique problem," Ryan said. "He is a natural-born shooter. When you're natural born at something you don't fool with it."