At least that's the way senior guard Jordan Taylor is looking at last year's 71-67 defeat over No.1 Ohio State in terms of preparing No.19 Wisconsin for Saturday afternoon's first-place tilt against the third-ranked Buckeyes at the Kohl Center.
"It's something you probably remember forever because you get beat a No.1 team at home but as far as what that has to do with this year, it's zero impact on the game this year," said Taylor. "We're a different team. They're a completely different team. I think both our teams have different strengths than last year."
Taylor was scintillating in scoring 27 points - hitting 5 of 8 three-pointers and 8 of 13 field-goal attempts overall – and executing a 30-8 second-half run 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 eight straight, hitting a floater and two deep 3-pointers, and 18 of 30 to help Wisconsin erase what was once a 15-point deficit.
"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," said UW coach Bo Ryan after. "He just did everything."
Taylor continues to do plenty for Wisconsin (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten). He leads the Badgers with 14.1 points and 4.3 assists per game and is second in the Big Ten with a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, helping Wisconsin lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 8.7.
Those things will be critical again with both teams being so strong defensively. While Wisconsin leads the nation in giving up 49.5 points per game, Ohio State (19-3, 7-2) is second at 55.6. Flip the schools when it comes to defensive efficiency, as Ohio State leads the nation in allowing just 81.1 points per 100 possessions, with Wisconsin right behind at 83.1.
"We know it's a big game and we know the magnitude of it," said Taylor. "We don't prepare for it any differently. We approach it just like we would any other game. Just go out there, have fun, play aggressive and stick to what the coaches want us to do."
One of the main things the Wisconsin coaching staff wants is to find a way to neutralize sophomore Jared Sullinger, who averaged 20.5 points and 10 rebounds against UW last season.
After averaging a double-double as a freshman, the growth of Sullinger is measured by more than just his numbers. While recording nine double-doubles so far this season and leading the team with 17.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, Sullinger has been able to shake off the back spasms that forced him to miss two nonconference games.
"The obviously thing is physically he's improves and he's trimmed down some," said assistant coach Lamont Paris. "His stamina and conditioning is better. Last year he played a lot of minutes, but this year is playing more productive minutes."
Sullinger isn't the only one that has improved on Ohio State's roster from the group that came to Madison. One of two players that came off the bench last year at UW, sophomore Aaron Craft, like senior Jordan Taylor, is a Bob Cousy Award finalist in averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 assists.
They may seem like modest numbers in 22 starts and 29.5 minutes per game, but Taylor calls Craft one of the best defenders in the country, as the sophomore has tallied at least three steals in each game.
He is a big reason the Buckeyes are forcing a Big Ten-leading 17.9 turnovers per game and lead in a plus-6.18 turnover margin.
"He's tenacious," said Taylor of Craft. "He doesn't quit. He never gets tired. You would think a guy that plays 35 minutes a game would get tired or relax, but he's just relentless. He spearheads their defensive effort."
Added Ryan: "He gets after people knowing he has people in behind him that can clean up. He's a good player on a good team."
Asked Friday on how well his team maintains a straight line between a Tuesday night in State College or a Saturday afternoon tilt against a top five, Ryan utilized his ‘next' philosophy by saying his team has developed over the course of the season by playing in big environments.
"Success is a series of building blocks and in order to stay successful, you have to improve," said Ryan. "Once you accomplished something you think is successful, there is always something around the corner … I don't see our guys getting too high or too low."
Taylor also isn't worried about attempting to duplicate his performance in that game.
"I really don't care," he said of his scoring. "We beat UNLV (this season) and I think I went 0 for 10. So if that happens again and we beat Ohio State, I'm all for it."