Taylor steps up late to pull Badgers past Penn State
Jordan Taylor sent Ryan’s welcoming party home happy with his clutch shooting down the stretch.
The star point guard scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer from the top of key with 1:44 left, to help No. 19 Wisconsin hold off the Nittany Lions 52-46 for its sixth straight victory.
Taylor made six free throws over the final minute, helping the Badgers (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten) overcome an early nine-point deficit.
“They play hard, we play hard. It was just a matter of who was going to hit some shots in key situations,” Ryan said. “Jordan stepped up and did that for us—again.”
The game between two coaches raised in the Philadelphia area went to Ryan, who was born in Chester. Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers was raised about 12 miles away, in Newtown Square. It was their first-ever meeting on the sideline.
Chambers wore jet-black Nike sneakers on Tuesday night, sporting a look made famous by the late Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
For several moments, it looked like scrappy Penn State might pull out a win.
Trailing 40-38, Penn State (10-13, 2-8) missed on three tries to tie or take the lead. Jon Graham missed two foul shots before Jermaine Marshall misfired on a 3 and missed a layup after grabbing his own rebound.
Taylor took over from there with his clutch 3. He scored 13 of Wisconsin’s last 17 points.
“It was all in the last 6 minutes of the game. That’s why he’s big time,” Chambers said about Taylor’s late surge. “He picks and chooses his spots, he plays in the space, he tries to get others involved and then when he (says) ‘All right, it’s my time,’ he goes. He’s got courage.”
Tim Frazier led Penn State with 21 points.
Six-foot-10 center Jared Berggren added eight points and 10 rebounds for Wisconsin, helping to get the offense going down low in the second half after his team struggled from the field early.
“I really didn’t do much the first half. Coach challenged me a little bit to be more aggressive, take it inside,” Berggren said. “I guess I was able to respond a little bit and make a few plays.”
Berggren scored six of the Badgers’ first eight points of the second half, before Taylor closed it out.
The much-anticipated point guard matchup between Taylor and Frazier got off to a slow start with the two combining for just nine points in the first half.
They seemed to go back-and-forth down the stretch in the second.
Frazier scored 17 points after halftime, often maneuvering in the lane around the Badgers’ tough defense for mid-range jumpers or one-handed floaters. Wisconsin was allowing just 49.6 points per game on opponents’ 36 percent shooting—both NCAA lows.
Penn State shot 36 percent for the game but made just seven field goals in the second half, six by Frazier.
“I was calling (Frazier’s) number,” Chambers said. “You’ve got to go with what’s going to keep you in the game.”
Frazier’s jumper got the Nittany Lions within 40-38 with 3:36 left, setting up the stage for the potential late heroics by Graham and Marshall.
Instead, it was Taylor who stole the show—as usual.
He finished 4 of 12 from the field but 8 of 10 from the foul line. He added five assists and three rebounds.
Ryan Evans added 11 points and six rebounds for the Badgers, who got a nice lift going into Saturday’s showdown against No. 3 Ohio State.
“Anytime you can win when you’re not offensively burning the scoreboard up, you take it—especially on the road,” Ryan said.
Marshall finished with 13 points, 10 in the first half. He scored six points during a 10-0 run to help Penn State build an 18-9 lead late in the first half.
It was Penn State’s first home game since Paterno died Jan. 22 from lung cancer, a little more than two months after he was fired from the school in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach. Paterno was never charged in the scandal.
A public memorial service for Paterno was held on the same Jordan Center court on Thursday.
Chambers and his coaching staff were already scheduled to wear sneakers Tuesday night as part of Coaches vs. Cancer awareness week. Chambers took it a step further in apparent honor of Paterno by wearing rolled-up khakis—just like JoePa used to across the street from the Jordan Center at Beaver Stadium.
Last updated: 2:22 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012