Taylor, Wisconsin hold off Nebraska 50-45
Taylor hit 11 of his 15 free throws, including five in the final 30 seconds, and finished with 19 points to lead Wisconsin to a 50-45 win over Nebraska on Sunday.
Less than three weeks after blowing out Nebraska 64-40 on the road, the Badgers (14-5, 3-3 Big Ten) struggled offensively all around. That includes Taylor, who was 4 of 11 from the field, including 0 for 4 from 3-point range, and finished with zero assists.
"Numbers really don't mean anything," Taylor said. "The only thing that matters is ... the win column."
Nebraska (9-8, 1-5) never led and trailed by eight with just more than five minutes to go before cutting the deficit to 45-43 with less than 30 seconds left.
Bo Spencer missed a 3-pointer for the Huskers, but Wisconsin's Jared Berggren couldn't corral the ball and it went out of bounds. Spencer missed another 3, but Toney McCray was fouled after grabbing the rebound, and Dylan Talley finally converted from behind the arc to make it a two-point game.
Nebraska immediately fouled Taylor, who sank both free throws. But Spencer responded with a quick finger roll on the other end to pull Nebraska back within 47-45.
Taylor was again fouled, this time with 17 seconds remaining. He hit the first free throw. But after missing the second, he ripped the ball away from Talley in the lane and was fouled again. He hit the last two free throws with 13 seconds left to seal the win.
As a team, the Badgers finished 18 of 24 from line, helping bail them out from their worst shooting night of the season at 31 percent. By comparison, the Cornhuskers had only two free-throw attempts, making both.
"You're not going to win on the road very many games with the discrepancy of 22 free throws. We've got to do much better than that," Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said.
"Obviously they are just an unbelievable defensive team to not foul."
The Cornhuskers were whistled for 19 fouls, compared to seven for Wisconsin.
Badgers coach Bo Ryan attributed the disparity to his players being more active on the offensive end, drawing attention to how the Cornhuskers were guarding them.
"Either you are going to call the hands or not and they called the hands in the second half it seemed because we were making better cuts," Ryan said.
"It wasn't because the game changed. The game changed because we made it change."
Spencer scored 13 points to lead the Cornhuskers, who weren't much better offensively than Wisconsin. They shot 35 percent and were outrebounded 42-28, resulting in 17 second-chance points for the Badgers.
With a crowd thinned thanks to the Green Bay Packers' playoff game and students still on break, it was one of the sloppiest performances of the season for Wisconsin. In addition to their poor shooting, the Badgers committed 11 first-half turnovers, including one stretch of four straight possessions.
Averaging just under nine turnovers a game, they tightened it up in the second half, committing just one.
Josh Gasser scored 12 points for the Badgers, while Berggren finished with nine points and 13 rebounds.
"Missing four opportunities to get a shot up is not what you're looking for," Gasser said. "Thankfully, I think we got better in the second half."