MADISON, Wis. -- A game that was close at the half was no longer close, the Kohl Center was oddly quiet and Twitter comedians across the nation had commenced to joking about how Wisconsin couldn't possibly dig out of a 15-point hole against the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes because Bo Ryan's team -- and you might've heard this before -- doesn't play basketball at a pace ideal for erasing big deficits.
|Jared Sullinger's Buckeyes can't stop Jordan Taylor once he gets hot in the second half. (AP)|
But it seemed over -- to everybody except the Badgers, that is.
"We weren't rattled," said Wisconsin sophomore Mike Bruesewitz. "We knew we just had to chip away."
Forget all that.
What came next wasn't an example of some determined team chipping away because to chip away is to remove something piece by piece over time. This didn't even take four minutes! The same Badgers that scored just 26 points in the first half turned a 47-32 deficit at the 13:21 mark into a 47-47 tie with 9:36 remaining, then completed what was ultimately a 30-8 run over nine minutes and the key to dealing Ohio State its first loss and creating Saturday afternoon's court-storming that Jon Leuer later described as "suffocating."
Final score: No. 13 Wisconsin 71, No. 1 Ohio State 67.
Nobody should be surprised that it happened.
But how it happened was downright shocking.
"It flipped [on us]," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. "When they got rolling, they got rolling."
By they, Matta mostly meant Jordan Taylor.
"Jordan Taylor, what he did there, people [should] take that and frame it," Ryan said while acknowledging even he was blown away by the 27-point, seven-assist effort his junior point guard delivered. "What he did right there, I don't know if there are too many players in the country that have ever done that -- not just this year, but at any time against a No. 1 team. ... Jordan Taylor was as good as it gets."
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Taylor -- a Minnesota native whom Ryan described as somebody well-rounded enough to one day be "governor or president, or both" -- scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half, and 18 of them came during that can-you-believe-this 30-8 run that changed the game from something into something else. Taylor was also credited with three assists in the run, meaning he played a direct role in 26 of the 30 points the Badgers scored when they went from down 15 to up seven [two of the assists were on 3-pointers -- one from Josh Gasser, the other from Bruesewitz].
And yet Taylor is not a Cousy Award finalist.
That's looking dumber and dumber by the day, isn't it?
"I almost thought it was a joke [when the 10 finalists for the award given annually to the nation's top point guard was announced last week]," Leuer said. "He's the best point guard in the Big Ten and maybe the best point guard in the nation."
Who could argue now?
Taylor is averaging 18.1 points, 4.8 assists and only 1.2 turnovers per game.
So he has award-worthy statistics.
He's also smart and calm and always in control.
So he has the intangibles, too.
Beyond that, he's the guy most responsible for beating the previously unbeaten Buckeyes and ensuring the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers will remain the last Division I college basketball team to finish a season undefeated. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo called Taylor "one of the best guards in the country" last weekend. Pretty much everybody echoed those thoughts this weekend, which makes it disappointing that there can't be a revote next week on that silly Cousy Award so Taylor can be one of the 10 finalists for an honor that he would otherwise now arguably be the favorite to win.
"I don't know what the Cousy thing is," Taylor said. "I'm just happy to have the win, have a good time with my teammates and go get something to eat."
Top-ranked Buckeyes for lunch.
A more conventional meal in a more conventional way for dinner, I presume.