Jordan Taylor didn’t have his best game shooting (2-of-16), but came through in the end with the biggest block of his life as the #4 Wisconsin Badgers defeated the #5 Kansas State Wildcats 70-65 in another March Madness thriller.
The Wildcats Jacob Pullen scored a crazy game-high 38 points and became Kansas State’s all-time scoring leader, but it wasn’t enough because Taylor’s rejection of Pullen’s last shot has the Badgers dancing all the way to the Sweet 16.
By: Nick Grays
If you have the #8 Butler Bulldogs versus the Badgers in your bracket, you already deserve an award because no one saw this coming.
For the second time in the last four years, the Badgers have defeated Kansas State to earn a trip to the Sweet 16 (defeated KSU 72-55 in what was called the 2nd round in 2008).
This time around, Wisconsin benefited from senior leadership and their ability to lay it all on the line, no matter how bruised and beat-up they would be at the end of the game. Seniors Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil will attest to that as they were both lifted from the game at one point because of injuries involving blood.
Three stitches and a blood-stained head later, Leuer poured in 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and performed all the intangibles for his team to a win.
But it wasn’t just Leuer, Nankivil and Taylor who pulled out this victory, it was a team effort, something the Badgers have preached all season long.
“Everybody stepped up. You can go right down the line. Mike’s big three, Tim Jarmusz hit some big shots,” said Leuer. “Just go right down the line of guys stepping up and making key contributions. That’s what you need in March if you want to keep playing, just guys stepping up and, you know, giving you good production. So, you know, that’s how I think we came out on top tonight.”
If you had to pick out one player who perfectly sums up the work ethic and ideals of Wisconsin Badgers basketball, it would be sophomore Mike Bruesewitz and it’s not because he rocks a big red fro.
Playing on a gimpy knee, Bruesewitz has done a majority of the dirty work by grabbing key offensive rebounds and making critical shots off the bench.
His three late in the second half was a dagger because the Badgers just don’t miss free-throws. UW put together another solid night from the charity stripe with a 19-of-23 effort to keep their hopes for a Final Four berth alive.
After beating Belmont and Kansas State with impressive offensive performances, no one should be calling this Badgers team boring, even if they did score 33 points in a game this season.
“We come out and play hard every day. We all love basketball. If people think we’re boring, there is a lot of channels on TV they can watch. We’re just coming out trying to win games and playing hard and, you know, trying to play the right way,” said Taylor.
What did you think of the Badgers win over the Wildcats? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
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