Backing It Up

Point guard Trevon Hughes was bogged down with fouls and senior Jason Bohannon was trouble getting off his shot. It's not a problem for No.15 Wisconsin, as sophomore Jordan Taylor continues to step up in the time of need.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - If it had been the first time sophomore Jordan Taylor had been called upon to fill the shoes of a starter, there may have been some trepidation on the part of Wisconsin's senior leaders. Some, but not a lot.

But after already having countless clutch moments in his young career, Taylor performance Sunday was fairly typical – a lot of production and not many mistakes.

"Jordan is playing some very good basketball this year," said senior Jason Bohannon. "He's willing to take the load if he has to."

So when senior and team leading-scorer Trevon Hughes was whistled for his fourth foul with over 10 minutes remaining in the second half, a move that preceded second-leading scorer Jon Leuer taking a seat with his fourth foul, Taylor felt no added pressure to steer the ship.

The final results were an indication of such, as Taylor scored 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting to lead No.15 Wisconsin to a 72-57 victory over struggling Illinois in front of 16,618 fans at Assembly Hall.

"He's a player," UW Coach Bo Ryan said of his point guard in waiting. "Some games are better than others, but his effort and approach to the game never changes. The fact that he is such a great human being the way he handles his teammates and people, he's the real deal."

Nobody would disagree with Ryan after the performance Taylor turned in for Wisconsin (23-7, 13-5 Big Ten). Going along with his 20 points, Taylor hit 3-of-6 shots from three-point range, grabbed a career-high eight rebounds while notching three assists, one steal and zero turnovers.

More importantly, he held junior leading scorer Demetri McCamey in check, as the junior finished with only 11 points and two made field goals.

"We know what we have with our guards and they always pick each other up," Leuer (20 points) said of Taylor's play. "If one guy has an off night, another will step up. We just have a great group of guys that are willing to pick each other up."

Taylor did that on multiple occasions and all at opportune times against the Illini. After Illinois' Bill Cole hit a three-pointer to cut the UW lead to 27-25 with 1 minute, 4 seconds left in the first half, Taylor immediately hit a triple, pushing the lead back to two possessions.

The bigger play came in the final four minutes as Taylor corralled a blocked Keaton Nankivil shot and made the quick put back with only one second remaining on the shot clock, giving Wisconsin a 10-point lead and silencing a boisterous student section.

"You saw today on the floor, there were a couple times when the shot clock was winding down and he made huge plays at the basket," Bohannon said. "When you have a point guard that makes smart plays like that, it's very beneficial."

Taylor has proved his moxie before in clutch situations, hitting a buzzer-beating three to send the game to overtime last year at Iowa and scoring 19 points off the bench against Gonzaga in Maui. Couple that with his plus 2.72 career assist-to-turnover ratio and it made Taylor a natural fit to move him into the starting lineup when Leuer went down with a wrist injury.

Averaging 11.4 points to go along with 58 assists and 19 turnovers in his last 14 starts, there's no reason to make a switch with the Badgers clicking on all cylinders.

"Jordan Taylor, what are you going to say?" Ryan said rhetorically. "His heart is twice as big as he is. He knew he had to reach down for a little extra with Pop being in foul trouble."

Badger Nation Top Stories