"We showed the guys clips during the scouting reports and they thought we were showing reruns of Rodney Williams 360 slamming back over his head on a lob, Ralph Sampson and Trevor Mbakwe," said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan after the game. "We took that away, so defensively you keep them under 40 percent shooting. I would say the percentage on those is pretty good and we took those away from them. That's what we did. We took the high-low away, the lobs and we chased the shooters hard."
Devoe Joseph led four Golden Gophers in double figures with 14 points (and seven assists) off the bench but with their offensive bread and butter taken away, Minnesota struggled to make up the point differences at the foul line (minus-6) and behind the arc (minus-9). It was the leadership of Leuer and Taylor, who made seven free throws in the final 1:12 to finish off the win, that earned the Badgers the win and a critical first strike in what should be a wild conference title race. Only three teams have ever won a Big Ten road game at Wisconsin, and Minnesota was able to do it two years ago by forcing eighteen turnovers. But thanks in large part to the savvy of Taylor and Wisconsin's value of the basketball there were no such boosts for the visitors.
"Jordan is the real deal. He's that kind of guy," said Coach Ryan of his floor general. "You have to like a guy with that kind of pressure, with that good of a team, who can disrupt and play a game with just two turnovers and to go 7-1 (assists to turnovers), that's pretty good. He's definitely our leader on the court." Next up for Wisconsin is a game at Illinois on Sunday in what should be a charged atmosphere. But when you have a player at the point like Taylor you don't worry as much about such road trips. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin will be factors in the Big Ten race as the season wears on, and a result like this could mean even more come March when tiebreakers come into play.
(quotes courtesy of Wisconsin Athletics)
Other Notable Happenings
1. Long Beach State lands the first blow in the Big West race.
Wednesday night was the first meeting between Long Beach State and UCSB since the Big West Tournament title game, won by the Gauchos 69-64 to move on to the NCAA Tournament. Added to the subplot was the return of guard Larry Anderson, who missed the six games prior (LBSU record: 2-4) with a broken hand. Anderson had quite the impact, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds in a 71-55 49er victory in the league opener for both. But just as important for Long Beach State was their defense, which limited UCSB to 33.3% shooting from the field and James Nunnally to 1-for-11 from the field. Orlando Anderson led the defending Big West champs with 14 points and nine rebounds, but he made just five of sixteen shots and turned the ball over five times. Coming off of their worst offensive performance of the season in a loss to Arizona State, Dan Monson's team made an early statement in a Big West title race that should include Pacific in addition to the 49ers and Gauchos. It's definitely a bonus to add a player of Anderson's caliber to the rotation, and with players like Casper Ware and T.J. Robinson also capable of leading the way Long Beach State will be a tough out.
2. Purdue throttles Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Michigan entered Tuesday's game against Purdue a much improved basketball team from both last season and a summer tour of Belgium that didn't go too well in the win column. But there's a major difference between the non-conference schedule and a league opener against a team the caliber of the Boilermakers, who made short work of the Wolverines by the final score of 80-57. Purdue opened the game on a 19-3 run then took their foot off the gas pedal, allowing Michigan to get back into the game and take the lead late in the first half. But building on a 5-0 spurt to end the half Matt Painter's team took control of the game in the second half and did not let go, with four Boilers scoring in double figures. JaJuan Johnson led the way with 22 while E'Twaun Moore added 21 and nine rebounds and Ryne Smith knocked down five three pointers in six attempts in scoring 17. Michigan made just 38.2% of their shots to 49.2% for Purdue, and the Boilermakers knocked down 10 of 18 from deep. Few teams are going to beat Purdue when they shoot that well, especially a Michigan squad hoping to get back to the postseason. Despite their many injuries don't rush to eliminate Coach Painter's team from the Big Ten conversation; with Johnson and Moore leading the way this is a formidable squad that will be a factor in the title race.
3. IPFW picks up a crucial road win to move to 3-0 in the Summit League.
A lot of the early talk regarding the Summit League from a national point of view has focused on the play of Oakland with a little love being thrown the way of IUPUI. But what about Dane Fife's Mastodons of IPFW, who moved to 3-0 in league play with their 76-73 win at Oral Roberts last night. Ben Botts led the way for the visitors, who had to survive a late 10-0 Golden Eagle run in order to hold on, with 20 points while Jeremy Mixon added 15 off the bench and Frank Gaines 14. IPFW made half of their field goal attempts and also did a good job of defending the three, limiting ORU to 3-for-18 shooting. Four Golden Eagle starters reached double figures with Dominique Morrison's 24 leading the way, but their reserves were outscored by IPFW's bench 29-6. Now tied with Oakland atop the league standings, IPFW is a safe bet to be a part of the title race as the season wears on and the same goes for Oral Roberts. But to get a road win like this early in the season can be the catalyst towards bigger and better things in the future.
Curtis Kelly suspension length announced Tuesday morning
Top Three Games
1. IPFW 76, Oral Roberts 73
2. UMKC 75, North Dakota State 73 A Trinity Hall tip-in with one second left gave the Kangaroos their first conference win in a Summit League matchup. Spencer Johnson led the way for UMKC with 16 points and 21 rebounds while Michael Tveidt (20) and Taylor Braun (19) led the Bisons.
3. (5) Syracuse 81, Providence 74 Following a technical foul called on Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine scored nine points in an 11-2 Syracuse run that gave the Orange all the separation they needed to hold on down the stretch at home. Kris Joseph led Syracuse with 27 while Marshon Brooks led Providence with the same.
Three Notable Performances
1. G Larry Anderson (Long Beach State) 25 points (9-10 FG) and eight rebounds in his first game in nearly a month due to injury, a 71-55 win over UCSB.
2. F JaMychal Green (Alabama) 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Crimson Tide's 83-60 win over Pepperdine.
3. F Kris Joseph (Syracuse) 27 points, five rebounds and four assists in the Orange's 81-74 win over Providence.
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