It doesn't help when your opponent is the fourth-ranked team in the country.
Try telling that to the Wisconsin men's basketball team. After senior Trevon Hughes was forced to the bench with 13 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first half due to foul trouble, sophomore Jordan Taylor entered the game – and took over. Taylor scored a career-high 23 points, and had a personal seven-point run that gave the Badgers the lead for good at 23-21 in the first half, eventually pushing UW to a 73-66 victory Saturday.
"Those guards were very good today, especially Taylor," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Taylor's the difference in the game. Anytime you can bring somebody off the bench and get 23 points on 11 shots – that's pretty impressive."
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan would agree.
"Jordan Taylor? That's because Matt Painter's been around basketball a long time," Ryan said. "He's smart enough to know that when you have a point guard like Trevon Hughes go to the bench, and you've got 14, 13-whatever minutes left to go, you're dogging the point guard. And he's got to bring the ball up for the next 14 minutes in the first half? And we're still hanging in there at halftime? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that that was the game right there. Because very easily Purdue, with the way they do things, that could have been 10, 15 point half in their favor. You tell me how it was that score at halftime. My answer would be because of Jordan Taylor."
Taylor's day didn't start so pretty however. He turned the ball over just 27 seconds after he entered the game, resulting in an E'Twaun Moore lay-up, and had another turnover less than two minutes later. This from the guy who entered the day with the fifth-best assist-to-turnover ration in the nation at 3.3.
"I had two pretty bad turnovers as soon as I got out there, and we got pretty stagnant after that," said Taylor, who didn't have another turnover the rest of the day, while dishing out two assists. "That's kind of my ... I was responsible for the offense getting stagnant in the first place. So I just tried to make things happen, try to open up the court. They were pressuring a lot. I was just trying to make a play – make things happen. Fortunately I got a few to go down. We just tried to get more aggressive."
It was that aggressiveness that allowed the Badgers trio of guards to combine for 57 of Wisconsin's 73 points. Purdue came into the game allowing their opponents just 59.8 points a game. The Boilermakers kept the inside game quiet for the Badgers – leading scorer Jon Leuer scored just four points and Keaton Nankivil scored just two – but there was no answer for Taylor, Hughes (14 points), and Jason Bohannon (20 points).
"When guys are shooting the ball 10 times and scoring 20 points, 11 times and getting 23 ... that's pretty efficient basketball," Painter said. "They got a lot of production from their guards – we simply couldn't stop them."
Bohannon, who was 6-10 from the floor in scoring his 20 points, was impressed with Taylor.
"Jordan played very well," he said. "He did a great job of getting into the lane and making the right decision. He got in the lane a couple times, finished strong, drew the foul or else he kicked it out to an open guy. When you have a point guard doing that, you're a very tough team to beat."