No 'I' in Sweet 16

Wisconsin has the big two but when Jordan Taylor struggled offensively Friday night, his teammates had no problems making the necessary plays to win a 70-65 nail biter over No.5 Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament third round.

TUCSON, Ariz. - With its 70-65 victory over Kansas State, Wisconsin has earned the right to move onto the Sweet 16 in New Orleans to take on the eighth seeded Butler Bulldogs Thursday. If you ask Jon Leuer though, he'll say the Badgers believe that they still have work to do.

"It's great," Leuer said. "(It's an) unbelievable feeling in the locker room celebrating with your teammates knowing you are one of 16 teams still playing. At the same time we think we're far from over. We have a lot of work to do still and are looking forward to our next challenge."

Most teams still fighting have a go-to guy, a superstar player that takes the big shot and leads the team to victory. But according to Leuer, Wisconsin (25-8) thrives by having a team, not just an individual that steps up when needed.

"We just made plays," Leuer said. "Everybody stepped up, you can go right down the line. Mike's big three. Tim Jarmusz hit some big shots. Even though Jordan was off offensively he made some huge plays down the stretch. He found Mike on that three. Right before that he got the steal. Just go right down the line of guys stepping up and making key contributions.

"That's what you need in March if you want to keep playing, just guys stepping up and giving you good production. So that's how I think we came out on top tonight."

For the second game in a row, Mike Bruesewitz battled through a knee injury to provide UW with a huge lift off the bench by scoring 11 points, including a huge three pointer with 1:25 remaining to put the Badgers in the lead, and grabbing six rebounds.

For Bruesewitz, he and his teammates' ability to rise to the occasion has been all about a belief in themselves and that they have what it takes to get the job done.

"I think it was just guys are realizing that we need to be confident," Bruesewitz said. "I think confidence is a big thing in March. Coming down and knowing that you're going to be able to make plays to help your team win games. I think that's just a lot of guys have kind of realized that in the last couple of weeks here.

"We've been doing well in practice. Practicing hard. Getting after it. And I think that's just the biggest thing. Guys' confidence keep raising. So it's good."

As mentioned earlier, Bruesewitz has been pivotal to the Badgers reaching the Sweet 16, and Taylor is ecstatic to see how his teammate has stepped up to play such a big role for the team.

"At the beginning of the year, we played UNLV and things didn't go our way for Mike," said Taylor, referring to Bruesewitz's late turnover that cost UW a chance to win against the Rebels in November. "We all told him he is going to get another shot. He was really down on himself. We told him he would get another shot to make the play and he's done it against Ohio State.

"He did it again tonight. He is one of the toughest kids I know. He is a heck of a teammate. I wouldn't want to have anybody else on the floor with me."

By scoring 70 points, UW pushed its record to 15-0 on the season when it eclipses that mark. Josh Gasser put in points number 69 and 70 to seal the victory for the Badgers, which were his 10th and 11th points of the game.

Gasser, a freshman averaging just 5.8 points per game heading into the contest, saw all of the pressure that Kansas State (23-11) was putting on Taylor, and knew he was going to have to step up to help his team get the win.

"I came in with a different mindset, I guess," Gasser said. "They were focused on Jordan a lot more, as we expected. We needed other guys to step up. Like Jon said, we had a bunch of guys step up: Tim, Mike, myself, everyone off the bench. Jared had a big game yesterday and did some good things today too.

"We have to have everyone out there to put together a good performance, myself included. So I just wanted to be more aggressive and help us offensively."

So while BYU has Jimmer Fredette, Connecticut has Kemba Walker, and Duke has Nolan Smith, the Wisconsin Badgers have each other. And to them, that's all they'll ever need to succeed and keep their dreams alive.


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