Wisconsin holds on over South Dakota 76-61
Or one turnover, depending how you want to look at it.
Taylor finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists Saturday as Wisconsin beat South Dakota 76-61 with Jon Leuer chipping in a career high 29 points.
Mike Bruesewitz missed a short jumper in the closing minutes that would have been Taylor's 10th assist. But Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan jokingly pointed to a first-half turnover as the reason Taylor came up just short — his only turnover of the game.
"I didn't want poor Mike to feel it was him that cost him the triple double," Ryan said.
Joking aside, Ryan was displeased with several aspects of Saturday's game, particularly the defense the Badgers (5-2) played in the first half.
Wisconsin came in giving up just 53.1 points a game, fourth best in the country, and had only allowed one team to reach 60 points this season. But the 37 points South Dakota (3-4) scored in the first period were the most the Badgers have allowed in any half so far.
The Coyotes also managed to shoot almost 47 percent from the field in the first period and trailed just 42-37 at the half. They also played an effective zone defense, though that initially didn't look like a good decision.
The Badgers led by as much as 15 points in the first half as they hit seven of their first 10 3-point tries, including four from Leuer. But Wisconsin often began to settle for 3-pointers instead of pounding the ball inside. The Badgers hit just five of their final 21 3-pointers over the rest of the game, including one that Taylor banked in.
Wisconsin couldn't really shake the Coyotes during the second half. With less than 8 minutes left in the game, South Dakota trailed 57-51, though it couldn't pull any closer. That was partially because the Coyotes went cold in the second half, shooting just 28 percent.
Charlie Westbrook led South Dakota with 18 points, while Jake Thomas came off the bench to score 15.
"Defensively, I think we stepped it up, and that was what we were talking about in the locker room, too, closing out on shooters and stepping up the intensity," Leuer said.
"We had some lapses in the second half, but overall it was a better job."
It was an unusual game for the Badgers in some ways.
For one thing, Wisconsin was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball in the first half with seven turnovers, just less than their season average of nine for a full game. The Coyotes turned the seven first half turnovers into 13 points.
"We haven't been one of the best teams in the country as far as taking care of the ball by accident," Ryan said. "Again, you just follow the rules."
On the flip side, the Coyotes outshot the Badgers from the free throw line, a rarity against Wisconsin, especially at home.
Often using a four-guard lineup against the bigger Badgers, the Coyotes got to the foul line for 14 shots, hitting 12. By comparison, Wisconsin was 6 of 9 from the line.
Even with the smaller lineup, the South Dakota hung with the Badgers on the boards as Wisconsin held an edge of just 37-34.
Still, Leuer and Taylor sealed the game down the stretch. The two combined to score Wisconsin's final 13 points over the final 5:46. They finished 18 of 37 from the field and 5 of 7 from the foul line. Leuer also grabbed nine rebounds and had four blocks.
"We could not contain Taylor's penetration," said South Dakota coach Dave Boots, whose program is in its third year of the transition to Division I. "He got to the basket when he wanted to, and Leuer, he's a lights out offensive payer."
Despite his final numbers, Jordan said he wasn't satisfied with his performance.
"Most of the game, we were doing a really bad job of finishing," Taylor said. "I missed quite a few layups around the rim. I just kept trying to attack and stay aggressive and put them on their heels."