Patience pays off for Wisconsin

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Associated Press
Thursday, January 6, 2011
— Wisconsin’s floor leader, Jordan Taylor, received no halftime advice from coach Bo Ryan about his lack of offense with the Badgers trailing Michigan.

No need. Taylor just continued with his plan to stay patient.

Taylor scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half and helped spark a 13-0 run to give the Badgers the lead for good in a 66-50 victory over Michigan on Wednesday night.

“I was just trying to be patient and let the game come to me. At times, I think when you start trying to force things—which I’ve done at times—it kind of ends up bad,” Taylor said. “If I get one point and we win by 20, I really don’t care.”

Jon Leuer added 17 points and was the Badgers’ only real offensive threat before halftime, but Ryan said he never told Taylor to be more aggressive at the break.

“I may have been able to get a raise if I said, ‘Yeah, I did,’” Ryan joked. “Jordan’s one of the smartest guys around. But it wasn’t anything particular, it was maybe a nuance here, an angle there.”

Wisconsin (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten) beat Michigan for the ninth straight time by settling down and taking control following a sloppy first half.

The Badgers committed six turnovers in the opening period after having five in their previous two games combined. In the second half, Wisconsin didn’t turn the ball over until 1:15 was left and the game had long been decided.

Zack Novak scored 15 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 10 as Michigan (11-4, 1-2) built a six-point lead in the first half, but couldn’t grab a bigger advantage when the Wolverines had the chance.

The Badgers held Michigan’s leading scorer, Darius Morris, to eight points—7.6 below his season average—after he got in early foul trouble.

Wisconsin, which lost to No. 20 Illinois on Sunday, hasn’t lost to Michigan at home since 1999 and hasn’t lost consecutive games in two years.

“You know Coach Ryan is a fighter, and he’s not going to let somebody, a team that he coaches lose twice in a row if he has anything to say about it,” said Keaton Nankivil, who had 13 points. “It’s a very businesslike atmosphere and we expect to win every game, regardless of what happened last game or what’s coming up in the future.”

Both teams have daunting schedules ahead.

The Wolverines host No. 3 Kansas on Sunday and No. 2 Ohio State next Wednesday. Wisconsin plays Tuesday night at No. 18 Michigan State, where the Badgers haven’t won since 2004.

In this one, Nankivil hit a 3 to give the Badgers a 35-33 lead and following Stu Douglass’ miss, Taylor added another 3-pointer, his third of the second half, that forced a Wolverines timeout.

“He’s a tough player. I mean, he comes out and knocks down those 3s right in a row, that was probably the change in momentum in the ball game right there,” Novak said.

It didn’t slow Wisconsin.

Josh Gasser made a little hook in the lane and Leuer added two free throws to give the Badgers a 42-33 lead with 13:15 left. Michigan never came closer than four down the stretch, but Wisconsin answered with a 6-0 run.

“Once we got behind, (it’s) really hard to come back on them. We tried zone, we tried man,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “They’re not going to miss any foul shots and they’re not going to turn it over.”

Wisconsin went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line in the final 2½ minutes.

Hardaway scored all of his points in the first half and Novak had nine, including consecutive 3-pointers that put Michigan up 28-22. But Mike Bruesewitz’s short layup and Taylor’s basket cut the Wolverines’ halftime lead to 28-26.

After Novak’ fourth 3-pointer gave Michigan a 33-29 lead, Wisconsin went on its game-changing run.

Wisconsin led early before the Badgers went more than 10 minutes without getting points from anyone but Leuer—who had nine in the span and has finished with 22 consecutive games in double figures—as Michigan built the early lead.

“We were just trying to raise the intensity level, but it didn’t work in the second half,” Hardaway said. “I think it all comes from experience, because even though we’re a young team, we’re still learning. So it will come for us.”

Last updated: 2:13 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

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