From Zero to Hero

Not making a field goal since the first half against Ohio State, sophomore Jordan Taylor couldn't buy a bucket. With his team clawing back after being down as many as 16 in the second half, Taylor finally came to life in the final two minutes, scoring eight straight to send the game to overtime and helping No.18 Wisconsin upend Penn State, 79-71, Sunday.

MADISON - No matter how hard he looked, there was no place for sophomore Jordan Taylor to go and hide.

Stuck in a 0-of-23 slump, his worst of his young college career, Taylor forced shot after shot, committed a pair of airballs and could do nothing to shake the coat of rust that was plaguing his game.

"I didn't hit a shot in four halves," Taylor said coyly. "I figured one has to go down eventually."

Taylor's premonition was right, and the production came just in time to save No.18 Wisconsin from a huge upset.

Penn State, the only winless team in the conference, led by as many as 16 in the second half, but Wisconsin never quit and neither did Taylor, as the sophomore hit his final six shots, scored the last eight points of regulation and seven of the first nine points in overtime to lead the Badgers to a 79-71 overtime win over Penn State.

Taylor finished with 20 points, 18 coming in the final 6 minutes, 47 seconds to give Wisconsin (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) its fourth largest second-half comeback in program history, the largest since overcoming a 17-point deficit to Toledo in November 1982.

"We have tough, young men that will just go toe-to-toe with you for 40 (minutes or) go another five if we have to," UW Coach Bo Ryan said. "It's the young men that we have that can make something like that happen when it seems like everything is going the other way.

"Our guys do not get frustrated. They don't pound the hammer to make a square go into a round hole. They just stay within themselves."

The Badgers looked sunk when forward Andrew Ott slammed home an offensive rebound at 2:02 to push the lead to eight for the Nittany Lions. The Badgers had battled vigorously to get back in the game after climbing an up-hill battle from the opening minutes of the first half against a team that had no player rank in the top ten in the conference in rebounding, field goal percentage, steals or blocked shots.

But with Penn State (8-11, 0-7) playing most of the game in a 2-3 zone and daring Wisconsin to take the perimeter shot, the Badgers got little production in the paint (getting out scored 22-18), were out rebounded, 38-28 and shot under 45 percent for the sixth straight game, the last four without leading scorer Jon Leuer in the lineup.

"At some point in time, we're going to hit a team that we're going to make all the shots and look great," said Jason Bohannon. "There are times where we haven't been shooting great and we need to grind it out to get a victory."

The grinding started when Wisconsin went on a 15-0 run to cut the lead to 52-51, but Ott's dunk capped a 9-1 Penn State run, a move that looked to give the Nittany Lions their first win in Madison since 1995.

After making zero field goals in the last 104 minutes, 40 seconds of game time, Taylor finally hit a three from the left elbow at 1:48, cutting the lead to 60-55, and hit another three on the following possession to cut the lead to two with 1:12 left.

When Ott traveled in the paint off an offensive rebound, one of Penn State's 18 turnovers, Wisconsin and Taylor had its opening. With 26 seconds left on the clock, Taylor hit a driving lay-up to tie the score and eventually send the game to overtime.

"I knew we were down two, and I was just trying to make a play and get in the lane," Taylor said. "We were all getting in the lane ... I was trying to make something happen."

"I thought we relaxed and we come down and let them bang a shot right on us," added Penn State Coach Ed DeChellis. "Then we come down and try to score too early and the kid walks. The game might be over again. They play pretty well for long periods of time and we make a big mistake at a crucial time. We've done that all year."

With the crowd still buzzing, Wisconsin made sure there was no more drama, scoring the first seven points of overtime - giving UW its first lead since 11:02 in the first half - and never allowed Penn State to get closer than five the rest of the way.

"I'd be lying to you if I wasn't happy," Taylor said. "That's the difference between this year's team and last year's team to an extent. We just kept battling."

Including Taylor, the Badgers got four players in double figures, getting 22 points from Trevon Hughes (his seventh 20-point game), a season-high 17 points from Keaton Nankivil and 13 points from Bohannon.

Taking early shooting practice evidentially helped Nankivil. After coming off a Michigan win where he finished 3-of-11 shooting and 1-of-7 from the perimeter, Nankivil hit 7-of-9 shots, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and registered two blocks.

"You figure it can't go anywhere but up," Nankivil said.

Another big difference for Wisconsin was turning 18 turnovers into 33 points and committing only five turnovers. Hughes and Taylor combined for 10 assists and zero turnovers and made 10-of-11 free throws. For the game, Wisconsin was 17-of-19 (89.5 percent) while Penn State was only 6-of-8.

"We just made some foolish turnovers down the stretch, which really, really hurt us," DeChellis said.

After being held to 9.6 points on 29.2 percent (19-65) shooting and 18.8 percent (6-32) from behind the arc in four career games against Wisconsin, Penn State junior Talor Battle finally exploded for 15 first-half points, including back-to-back-to-back three-pointers in a 64 second span that turned a one-point UW lead into a eight-point deficit.

The Nittany Lions entered the game last in the conference in field goal percentage but shot 60.9 percent (14-of-23) in the opening 20 minutes to build an eight-point halftime lead. The lead continued to swell a number largely contributed to the Badgers still misdialing from long distance, shooting 3-of-13 from the perimeter in the first half and finished the game 10-of-33 (30.3 percent).

But when the lead reached 16 and the Badgers closed the game on a 33-19 run, only Battle was productive, scoring 13 of those points before fouling out in the final 18 seconds of overtime. Battle finished with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-23 shooting, but missed a three-pointer off the back iron in the final seconds of regulation that would have won it for Penn State.

"That's kind of been the story of our season when we are one play away from winning several of these games," DeChellis said. "We just haven't made that one play … or eliminating that one mistake."

In addition to the nature of the comeback, Sunday's win was chalked full of individual milestones.

The victory makes Ryan the 18th coach in conference history to win 100 games and became the second-fastest to reach that plateau. Reaching the century mark in only 140 games, Ryan tied legendary Indiana coach Branch McCracken for second place on the list of quickest to 100 wins, finishing nine games behind another legendary Indiana coach (Bob Knight).

"Personally, the stuff that has to be said about 100 wins, I am glad it's over from this standpoint – it's still about the players and what they do," Ryan said.

Hughes moved into 21st place on Wisconsin's all-time scoring list and Bohannon became the 35th player in school history, and ninth under Ryan, to eclipse 1,000 points. It was only fitting that he accomplished it on a free throw in the closing seconds of overtime, giving him 1,001 for his career.

Much like his coach, the hard-fought win was all that mattered in the end.

"It was another free throw out there," Bohannon said. "It's something special … but the most important thing in there was getting another victory."

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