MADISON, Wis. (AP)—With Penn State poised to finally win one in the Big Ten, Jordan Taylor emerged to bail out No. 18 Wisconsin and add to the Nittany Lions’ misery.
Taylor scored the last eight points of regulation to tie the game, then went on to score 10 more in overtime as the Badgers beat the Nittany Lions 79-71 on Sunday.
“He hadn’t hit all game,” Penn State’s Talor Battle said of Taylor. “I mean, he was airballing. But credit him for having the toughness to step up and hit some big shots down the stretch.”
Taylor went out of his way to credit his teammates, but still managed to crack a smile.
“Obviously, I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t happy,” Taylor said.
Trevon Hughes scored 22 points and Taylor scored 18 of his 20 after the 2-minute mark in regulation for the Badgers (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten), who trailed for most of the game as their recent string of ugly outside shooting performances continued.
Battle scored 28 and Chris Babb added 16 for the Nittany Lions (8-11, 0-7), who were ahead 60-52 with 2 minutes left in regulation before Taylor’s scoring outburst.
“It was just some little things,” Battle said. “I’m proud of the guys, but once again, we just didn’t do enough.”
The Nittany Lions remain winless in Big Ten play, but coach Ed DeChellis isn’t willing to concede that his team is as bad as its record.
“I don’t think we’re bad,” DeChellis said. “And I know you guys are all laughing at me, ‘(The) guy hasn’t won a game in the league and doesn’t think he’s bad.’ I just don’t think we’re bad. We just have been snakebitten, constantly.”
With the victory, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan tied former Indiana coach Branch McCracken as the second-fastest coach in Big Ten history to reach 100 conference victories. Ryan and McCracken reached the 100-win mark in conference play in 140 games—trailing only Bob Knight, who did it in 131.
“It’s still about the players,” Ryan said.
Sunday’s victory also preserved Wisconsin’s home winning streak over unranked conference opponents under Ryan, which stands at 51-0—but just barely.
“I told Ed afterwards, man, his team offensively goes through some explosions that nobody else in the league has ever had,” Ryan said.
Wisconsin continued to rely heavily on outside shooting without injured big man Jon Leuer and continued to struggle, going 3 for 13 from 3-point range in the first half and 10 for 33 for the game Sunday.
Coming into Sunday’s game, the Badgers were a combined 20 for 76 from 3-point range in their previous three games since Leuer broke his left wrist. The 6-10 forward is out indefinitely, leaving the Badgers without their No. 2 scorer behind Hughes.
Penn State played a heavy dose of 2-3 zone Sunday, and Wisconsin couldn’t take advantage for most of the game.
“They were daring us to make some, and that’s OK,” Ryan said.
The Nittany Lions led 60-52 after a dunk by Andrew Ott with 2:02 remaining in regulation, and Penn State seemed to be in control.
“I thought we relaxed,” DeChellis said.
Taylor hit a 3-pointer with 1:47 left to cut the lead to five. Ott was called for traveling and Taylor hit another 3-pointer, cutting the lead to two with 1:06 remaining. Bill Edwards missed, and Ott was called for traveling as he hit the floor diving for a rebound.
Taylor hit a driving layup on the other end to tie it, then provided defense on Battle, who missed a late 3-point try that could have won the game.
Hughes opened overtime with a pair of free throws to give the Badgers the lead, and Taylor took over again.
He hit a 3-pointer, then came up with a steal and a fast-break layup to give Wisconsin a seven-point lead.
Battle made a pair of free throws but Taylor struck again, hitting a jumper in the lane to put the Badgers up 69-62 with 2:35 left. Babb hit a jumper on the other end, but Hughes hit a long jumper and a free throw to convert a three-point play and give Wisconsin a commanding 72-64 lead with 12:02 remaining.
Jason Bohannon scored 13 for Wisconsin, surpassing 1,000 points for his career—but his most impressive play of the day was a leaping blocked shot earlier in the game.
“I used to love the movie, ‘White Men Can’t Jump,”’ Hughes said, jokingly. “But ‘J-Bo’ proved that white boys can jump. I don’t know what Wesley Snipes was talking about.”