Second Half is Taylor Time

Winners of six in a row, No.19 Wisconsin has gutted out five of those victories in the final five minutes. UW has also relied on senior Jordan Taylor continuing to be the clutch player he's been known to be.

MADISON - Pouring over game film during the team's six game winning streak, assistant coach Lamont Paris can explain a number of things that have gone right and a couple things the team can improve on over the final eight regular season games.

But when he tries to break down the difference in All-American senior point guard Jordan Taylor from the first 35 minutes compared to the final five minutes, he's at a loss for words.

"It's something that's unexplainable," said Paris. "I don't think anything changes conscientiously. It's nothing that you can really point a finger to or something we worry about."

After a three week unbeaten stretch that has turned No.19 Wisconsin from outhouse to penthouse, there's little arguing that the Badgers are right back in the Big Ten title conversations as they approach a Saturday afternoon matchup with No.3 Ohio State with first place up for grabs.

There's also little arguing that Taylor – who admits that his production hasn't been as consistent as it has been in past seasons – has seemingly willed his team to much-needed victory ever since UW flew home from Ann Arbor 1-3 in conference play.

"'Taylor Time' is the fourth quarter in NBA terms," said sophomore Josh Gasser. "He's so mentally tough and competitive that he has that edge to him. He won't let a team lose … and from the last media timeout out, he's been a facilitator."

During Wisconsin's six game winning streak, Taylor is averaging 15.5 points per game – practically in the middle of the 14.1 points he's averaging overall this season and the 16.5 points he's averaging in conference play – but is two third of his points - 10.6 points - in the second half.

In the five games the Badgers have won by seven points or less on the streak, however, Taylor has been even better down the stretch. In the final 5:07 of wins over Purdue, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana and Penn State, Taylor has scored 31 total points, the majority of which have come off his free throws. In the final 90 seconds, Taylor is 22 of 28 (78.6 percent) from the line.

"If we have any kind of lead in a late game situation, he's going to be the guy with the ball in his hands," said Paris. "He's going to manufacture some points from the free throw line. He looks to take those opportunities when we really need him because he's been in those situations more than anybody else on the team."

He showed that last year against the previously unbeaten Buckeyes when he scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half to lead UW to a 71-67 victory.

‘Taylor Time' is not a well-known phenomena, but it has swept the nation, especially Taylor's name was ‘trending' on the social medium Twitter during the second half of last year's Ohio State victory – meaning he was the one of the top most talked-about topics in the world during that time.

"He has a really good game for us, obviously, and a special game for him," said Paris. "It really validated some things that we probably already knew. We knew that in late game situations, he was a guy we could count on to create something for him or somebody else. That just happened to be a game where he did it more for himself."

Taylor shrugs off his late game heroics, saying he tries to play the last 20 minutes as well as the first 20 minutes, but gives a big benefit to his improvement from talking to the bench players in the locker room. With players like Duje Dukan, Dan Fahey, Traevon Jackson sitting on the bench, halftime allows that group to give the starters their observations and make adjustments as needed.

"We've got some pretty smart walk-ons and guys who don't play as much, so it's helpful when you have guys like that," said Taylor. "People don't see that."

People certainly have seen Taylor. After his scintillating performance last year against the Buckeyes just days after he was snubbed from being a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, Taylor was quietly added to the group of finalists amidst public outcry.

This year, Taylor made the list of finalists the first time, and will to play like one of the best guards if the country if Wisconsin wants a victory.

"We just need him to play his game," said Gasser. "He helps us in so many ways. He obviously hit some big shots last year that helped us get going, but it goes beyond that with his defensive ability and being a facilitator out there."

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