Jackson has UW Back on the Upswing

Doing all the little things right to help Wisconsin register one of its biggest wins of the season, junior guard Traevon Jackson has the Badgers right in the thick of the conference race with less than three weeks to go.

Showing poise with the basketball, superb vision in finding his open teammates and hitting some clutch free throws, junior Traevon Jackson delivered during his 37 minutes on the court Sunday, playing one of his best games of the season against likely the toughest road opponent the Badgers will see.

The only thing that was missing was some shooting touch from the field.

"I told him that was the best 1-for-6 I have ever seen and I think the players thought so too," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Two turnovers for the game for us total and Trae was the one with the ball in his hands quite a bit. Like I said, that is his best 1-for-6."

Although Jackson shot 16.7 percent from the floor in Wisconsin's 75-62 victory at then-No.15 Michigan, it was scoring seven of his nine points on eight free throw attempts and six assists to zero turnovers that were just as important as Frank Kaminsky's 25-point, 11-rebound performance or Sam Dekker's 15 and 9 night.

Three times Jackson drove into the lane, collapsing the defense, only to kick the ball out for a wide-open 3-point-make from Josh Gasser. He did the same for Kaminsky, setting it for a 3-pointer and a dunk in the second half.

"Trae dictated the game and he was a floor general," said Dekker. "He got people the ball in situations and I think every call that he made was the right call at the time. When it was to Frank, me, Ben (Brust) or Josh, you know he was milking the shot clock and finding guys. That is what we need from him and he is not going to go 1-for-6 every night, but a night like this he played just as well as going 7-for-10."

The victory for Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) makes things interesting for the Badgers with five games remaining in the conference season. UW – which jumped five spots to No.16 in the AP poll Monday – has the longest winning streak at the conference in four games, is two games behind co-leaders Michigan and Michigan State and a half game behind Iowa, who plays at Indiana tonight before hosting UW on Saturday.

Wisconsin won 75-71 in Madison Jan.5 after erasing an 11-point deficit in the first half in a game remembered for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery's ejection in the second half.

"We want one of the top four seeds," said Kaminsky, "so we got a bye in the first round of the Big Ten tournament."

Probably the one player who will have the biggest say whether the Badgers finish in the top four of the conference for the 13th straight year under Ryan will be Jackson.

During the five game stretch that preceded Wisconsin's current winning streak, Jackson didn't shoot a high percentage either (27.8 percent, 10-for-36), but had 13 turnovers to go along with 15 assists. In the last four games, his assist-to-turnover ratio is 18-to-7.

Needless to say, how Jackson goes will determine how far UW goes during the final stretch of the season.

"He has really come on lately as a point guard," said Kaminsky. "He has been a real verbal and physical leader out there for us out there on offense and defense."

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