Just a few days after Wisconsin star point guard Jordan Taylor seemed to be the only Badger who could hit a shot in a home loss to Iowa, he once again found himself trying to do everything on offense Tuesday night in Madison.
In Wisconsin's heartbreaking 63-60 overtime loss, Taylor was an efficient scoring machine with 28 points on just 11 field goal attempts. He hit on 7 of those 11 field goals and added 12 of 16 free throws. Taylor only 2 three-pointer makes of the game came on back-to-back possessions in overtime, when Wisconsin absolutely had to have the shots go in to have any chance of extending the game. Clutch city.
If you take away Taylor's 2 of 5, the rest of the Badgers shot 3 of 17 from long distance. Sure, it plays out like a "live by the three, die by the three" deal, but for Wisconsin to move up from just being a good team that plays defense and depends on Taylor to make enough plays to win, someone else needs to step up.
Ryan Evans was 3 of 15 from the field versus Michgan State. Jared Berggren was 4 of 13, and Josh Gasser was just 1 of 3. It's true that Michigan State is tough on defense, but Big Ten play has brought out the ugly truth that Wisconsin does not have a dependable second scorer. They miss Jon Leuer big time.
There's certainly potential, though. Evans has shown he can hit a jumper from 15-feet and Berggren has flashed skills from both the arc and the post. Ben Brust has certainly shown a willingness to be Taylor's "Robin," but the consistent production just isn't there yet. It will be interesting to see if one of these players makes a jump as the season rolls on.
The story for Michigan State was about Draymond Green grabbing rebounds. He gobbled up 14 total, including 4 on offense to go with 18 points. Green botched two free throws to allow Evans to almost tie the game in overtime, but other than that he was pretty solid.
Keith Appling looked pretty good for Sparty again. He scored 16 points, but with only 2 assists. It's semi-important to note that he shook up Wisconsin's Evans with a sick stutter move that may or may not have actually been a carrying violation.
Michigan State should prove to be even more impressive than they've been already should Branden Dawson come out of the phone booth this season. The athletic freshman had a couple of explosive takes to the bucket, but only finished with 5 points. We're waiting for that breakout game.
In the other game on Wednesday night, Ohio State tore apart Nebraska 71-40. The Huskers were held to 31% shooting and turned the ball over 16 times. The only real plus was Brandon Richardson getting 7 steals, which helped roll the Bucks up to 19 turnovers. Think about how ugly this one might have been if those steals didn't happen.
Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald has all you need to know.
The Huskers had more turnovers (17) than field goals (16). They were outrebounded 44-21. They were outshot 53.6 percent to 30.8 percent. They fell behind by double digits about seven minutes into the game and never got closer.
"I’m sorry you had to see that," NU coach Doc Sadler said. "I didn’t think this was going to happen.
Jared Sulling had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Toney McCary led Nebraska with 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Nebraska is obviously having a rough go of it so far, but so would many teams with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State on the schedule. The problem is that two of the three games haven't been very competitive. I'm starting to think that Penn State vs. Nebraska might be kind of a big deal. Also, maybe when the Huskers play Northwestern, they can put the "NU" label up for grabs to spice things up.