Taylor clearly Badgers’ catalyst
“I do remember it,” Painter said this week as the 11th-ranked Boilermakers prepared to host No. 10 Wisconsin, with tipoff set for 5:30 p.m. today at Mackey Arena.
That performance was last season, when Taylor came off the bench to hit 7 of 11 field-goal attempts and score 23 points in 29 minutes in a 73-66 UW victory in Madison.
Now a junior, Taylor is the lead guard for UW (19-5, 9-3), the undeniable catalyst of the team and a player who appears capable of taking over a game whenever necessary.
“I think coach (Bo) Ryan does an unbelievable job of developing players,” said Painter, whose team is 20-5 and 9-3. “Trevon Hughes is a guy that didn’t play as a freshman but then right away when he does play he is ready.
“Bo does a great job of not throwing guys into the fire unless they are ready. And (Taylor) played a role his first year. He backed up and had a couple good games in there.
“And the next year even though he came off the bench he still was a starter type of player. …
“Each time I watch him get interviewed you can see the substance coming out. And you can see why they gravitate
toward him, because he is a great leader.”
Taylor, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Badgers’ 66-59 victory over the Boilermakers on Feb. 1 in Madison, entered the week averaging 38.2 minutes per game in league play. In those 12 games he is averaging 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and only 1.2 turnovers.
Yet those numbers only hint at his ability to control a game for long stretches.
His performance in Saturday’s 71-67 win over then-No. 1 Ohio State—27 points, seven assists, four rebounds and only one turnover in 39 minutes—was his best all-around game in a UW uniform.
“He is the best point guard in the Big Ten,” teammate Jon Leuer said, “and maybe the best point guard in the nation.”
Consider how Taylor took over against the Buckeyes and in other games:
-- Taylor scored 21 of his points in the final 12 minutes 58 seconds against Ohio State. In UW’s decisive 30-8 second-half run, he scored 18 points and assisted on three other baskets for eight more points.
-- Six days earlier in an 82-56 victory over Michigan State, Taylor put up 30 points, six assists and just one turnover in 35 minutes.
-- In a 79-71 overtime victory over visiting Penn State last season, Taylor scored UW’s final eight points in the last 1:47 of regulation and finished with 18 of UW’s last 24 points.
-- In the 73-66 victory over Purdue last season, Taylor scored 13 of his 23 points in the final 13:37 of the opening half. He took over after Hughes went to the bench with his second foul.
Taylor is more difficult to defend this season because his perimeter shooting is more consistent. He is shooting 42.4 percent from three-point range (50 of 118) and 45.8 percent overall (137 of 299).
“It is his team,” Painter said. “Bo’s lead guard—whether it is Kammron Taylor or Trevon (Hughes) or Devin Harris or Taylor—he always seems to have that key guy that understands you do not turn the basketball over and get us a good shot every time.”
Taylor can score off drives, hit pull-up jumpers, catch and shoot from just about anywhere and he has been particularly effective using high ball-screens with the shot clock running down.
One of the practice tools Ryan used often last season was to set the shot clock at 15 seconds and then throw the ball onto the court to any player he chose. It was up to the offense to get a good shot off against the defense.
“He learned quite a bit from those repetitions,” Ryan said. “And he is putting that to good use this year.”
Leuer was on the bench when Taylor started the decisive run against the Buckeyes with eight points—a two-point basket and back-to-back three-pointers—in a span of 1:35.
“He caught fire,” Leuer said. “... When he is on fire like that nobody can slow him down. When he is like that, look out.”