Dynamic duo: Wilkinson and Taylor thrive

Wisconsin tandem combines for 46 points, leads rally for 72-69 win over Iowa

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team's comeback at the Kohl Center here Wednesday evening boiled down to the Mike Wilkinson and Kammron Taylor show.

Sure, there were contributions from other players as the Badgers overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to pull out a 72-69 win over Iowa. But nothing compared to what Wilkinson and Taylor accomplished.

Taylor, the 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, and Wilkinson, the 6-8 senior forward, combined for 46 points Wednesday. In the second half, they tallied 30 of UW's 38 points.

"We didn't get too anxious when we got down," Taylor said. "Coach is telling us to take it one possession at a time. I think we executed pretty well in the stretch. We worked the ball inside to Mike. He started it out. He was getting in there, finishing."

Indeed, the rally started with Wilkinson but Taylor provided just as many exclamation points.

Trailing 54-43 Wilkinson set up Taylor for a 3-pointer to make it 54-46 with 10:01 left to play.

Wilkinson then went to work in the paint, scoring over Iowa forward Greg Brunner at 8:25 and converting a short jumper in the lane and drawing a foul on Hawkeye guard Mike Henderson at 7:43. Wilkinson completed the 3-point play, drawing UW within 54-51.

Two possessions later, Taylor tried moving right along the 3-point arc but dribbled the ball off his leg near the top of the key. It took a fortuitous bounce, however, and bounded directly to UW guard Sharif Chambliss. Taylor repositioned in the corner, received a return pass from Chambliss and drilled the triple to tie the game at 54-54 with 5:42 left to play.

"I was just trying to make a play and the ball ended up going off my leg and I think Sharif picked it up and so I just went and spotted up in the corner," Taylor said. "I think he penetrated and I yellowed out ‘corner' and he heard me and I know the shot clock is running down and I just let in fly."

Wilkinson then made a running half-hook over Brunner to give the Badgers their first lead since early in the first half.

After Brunner tied the game at the other end following an Iowa timeout, Taylor made it 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half, drilling another triple to give Wisconsin a 59-56 advantage.

"We played good defense at the other end, got some stops and that allowed us to come down and get the ball inside," Wilkinson said. "They weren't really collapsing that much when I got the ball. They were just trying to keep me from getting it to start with and then one thing I got good position down there and the guards did a good job of making great passes, getting me the ball.

"We just went from there, either make a move or kick it out. Everything looks good when people are knocking down shots."

In the form of Wilkinson and Taylor, what had been mediocre shooting came to life in the final 10 minutes. Prior to Taylor's first 3-pointer, the Badgers were shooting 37 percent (13 of 35) in the game and had made just 2 of 8 field goals in the second half.

Taylor and Wilkinson combined to go 6 of 7 for 16 points in the 5-minute, 53-second span that gave the Badgers a 59-56 lead with 4:08 left to play.

Iowa would tie the game again at 61-61, but forward Alando Tucker attacked the basket, drew a foul and converted a 3-point play to give UW a 64-61 edge with 2:18 remaining.

"I just read it," Tucker said. "A lot of times early in the game, I read the help defender. It's a real quick read. If the defender jumps out then I will take it strong."

Amazingly, Tucker's bucket was Wisconsin's only field goal in the final four minutes. Wisconsin paraded to the foul line in that time, where the Badgers made 11 of 14 charity shots to preserve the win.

"It's satisfying right now," Wilkinson said. "We didn't do a lot of things right at different points in the game yet we still found a way to get things done at the end of the game, or when we needed to. That's always a good thing but we need to come ready to play like that all the time; put that together for a full 40 minutes."

In the final 10:01 Wednesday, Wisconsin outscored Iowa 29-15, with Taylor (16 points), Wilkinson (9) and Tucker (4) accounting for all of the Badgers' scoring output.

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