Badgers hold off Panthers
That won’t stop him from taking the big shot.
With the Badgers trying to fend off a furious second-half surge from in-state rival UW-Milwaukee on Tuesday night, Taylor drilled a 3-pointer with just over 40 seconds left to help Wisconsin hold on for a 60-54 victory.
“That last one, I felt like I got a little bit of room,” Taylor said. “Just tried to step in and knock it down.”
Jared Berggren scored 17 points and Ryan Evans had a career-high 16 for the Badgers, who have won three straight to recover from consecutive losses earlier in the season.
While Taylor wasn’t happy with his offensive play early in the game—he scored 14 points but shot 5 for 14 from the field Tuesday—teammates still look to him with the game on the line.
“To tell you the truth, I knew it was going in,” Evans said. “The look in his eyes, when you know he’s going to hit a shot, he had that look. I started running back the other way. I didn’t go for the rebound because I knew it was going in. Him down the stretch, he’s big time.”
Tony Meier scored 15 points, playing a key role in a second-half comeback for Wisconsin-Milwaukee (8-3).
Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter noted that his undersized team did a good job standing up to the Badgers. Milwaukee outrebounded Wisconsin 34-32 and had a 30-20 edge on points in the paint.
“You’d think you could win that game,” Jeter said. “But it came down to kids made a couple tough shots.”
Leading 31-20 at halftime, the Badgers pushed their lead to 44-27 on a three-point play by Evans with 15:17 left.
“We could have crumbled, become impatient and forced a few things,” Jeter said. “But we battled back.”
But the Panthers went on a 16-1 run that included two 3-pointers, an inside score and a three-point play by Meier, cutting Wisconsin’s lead to 45-43 with 9:27 left.
Meier said Jeter “kind of called me out” at halftime, demanding better play.
“In a nice way,” Jeter joked.
Badgers coach Bo Ryan said the Badgers got away from their defensive game plan during the Panthers’ run.
“They went on a 3-point barrage, and we got away from a couple of rules that we had coming in,” Ryan said.
The Panthers later tied the game at 48 on a layup by Meier with 5:19 left.
Berggren hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, but Milwaukee’s Ryan Allen answered with a dunk.
Taylor then scored inside and later made two free throws, giving the Badgers a 55-50 lead with 3:27 left. Milwaukee’s Kaylon Williams scored, cutting the lead to three with 1:08 left.
Taylor then hit the 3-pointer with just over 40 seconds left to put the game away.
With the win, Ryan once again came out on top against Jeter, his former assistant.
Milwaukee was without two starters because of injuries, forward Kyle Kelm and guard Ja’Rob McCallum.
Wisconsin had won two straight games coming in, recovering from losses at North Carolina and at home to Marquette by beating Wisconsin-Green Bay and UNLV at home.
The Badgers have been struggling to hit shots from outside of late. But even when they aren’t hitting 3-pointers, the Badgers still play defense.
Milwaukee got off to a miserable start against Wisconsin, which came into Tuesday’s game as the nation’s best defensive team allowing 44.9 points per game.
The Panthers started 3 for 18 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range, and fell behind 22-8 on an inside shot by freshman Frank Kaminsky. Milwaukee went on a 12-4 run from there, cutting the lead to 26-20 on a jumper by Evan Richard.
But Berggren hit a 3-pointer, Evans scored inside and the Badgers went into halftime with a 31-20 lead.
Evans, whose previous career-high was 15 points in Wisconsin’s Nov. 25 victory over Bradley, said winning a tight game will help the Badgers get ready for Big Ten play.
“These are huge, especially for later in the season, knowing we have been there and endured that feeling and pull it out,” Evans said. “That’s a good feeling, and that’s going to be huge for us down the stretch.”