MADISON - Following Wisconsin's 66-50 win over Michigan Wednesday night, Wolverine head coach John Beilein was certain Bo Ryan said something to his point guard during the halftime intermission.
With his team trailing by two, Ryan asserted that nothing needed to be said to Jordan Taylor.
"I know some guys that would jump on that and say, yeah, I told him that and I told him this," Ryan said, following Taylor's 20-point performance, 17 of which came in the second half. "No. I may be able to get a raise if I said, 'Yeah, I did.' But no, we talked about certain things.
"But Jordan knows. Jordan is one of the smartest guys around."
He's one of the best players around, too, at least at the Big Ten level.
Following a lackluster three-point effort in the opening 20 minutes, the junior point guard lambasted the Wolverine defense in the second frame, scoring 17 points on 4-of-5 shooting. To start the second half, Taylor dropped a couple of threes on Michigan that swung momentum in UW's favor.
"I think that's part of basketball," Taylor, who also dished three assists while only committing one turnover, said. "Anytime anybody knocks down any shots…Jon Leuer has had 13 games where he's hit the first four three's of the game this year. The crowd really gets off their feet for that. Just diving on the floor, or anything like that, hustling.
"Showing people that we're working hard and show our teammates that we're working hard."
After starting the second half trailing by two points to a hot shooting Michigan squad, Taylor, Leuer and the rest of their teammates tore apart a Wolverine team that was trying to find a balance between their man and zone looks.
A 13-0 run in the early stages of the second half thwarted any chance Michigan had of pulling the upset.
"If you look at their stats, it's incredible," Beilein said. "They're not inflated and that they have so many guys shooting. Taylor is shooting 38 percent the other guys are shooting 40's. It's just really hard to guard all those guys when they have four shooters on the floor."
A lot of that had to do with the success senior Keaton Nankivil had from the floor, and particularly from downtown. It seemed every time the Badgers worked a possession into the paint, the kick out was there for Nankivil who was ready and willing to take the shot from the perimeter.
And they went in more times than not as the Madison native knocked down 3-of-5 shots from distance.
"It helps us out a lot," Leuer, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting said of Nankivil's night. "Anytime we can get that type of production that Keaton has been giving us the last few weeks is huge. He's really starting to find his groove right now and he's been stepping up and knocking down shots for us. That opens up the lane for Jordan to penetrate.
"It just frees a lot of stuff up for us and we're able to get into a rhythm offensively."
But it wasn't just the three-headed attack of Leuer, Taylor and Nankivil Wednesday night. Guys like Tim Jarmusz, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans and Brett Valentyn pulled their weight, too.
"Tim has been doing that for four years now," Taylor said. "This is Mike's second year doing that. Even when they're not knocking down shots you can always count on those guys because they are great teammates. They are hustling all the time and can bail you out. Everybody on our team is that way. We kind of pride ourselves on being a close cohesive unit.
"Everybody kind of sticks together and helps each other out."
During this particular game, a combined team effort from Wisconsin helped the Badgers overcome an upset minded Michigan squad. Though they're young, they fight hard and actually had the Badgers down at the half.
But playing against a road team that's nearly unbeatable in front of its home fans and with an 11-game home winning streak on the line, it just wasn't meant for Michigan to snap it's eight game losing streak to the Badgers.
"Once we got behind, it was really hard to come back on them," Beilein said. "We tried zone, we tried man and they got a couple extra possessions when we went zone that couldn't let us get it under six. We just couldn't get it to that point where we could get back and make it a one or two possession game.
"From there on out the lights are out usually here with three or four minutes to go down four because they are not going to miss foul shots and they're not going to turn it over. That's why the game ended up the way it is."
Wisconsin hit 15-of-18 free throws for the game, including an 8-for-9 mark during the final two and a half minutes. Eventually, the Badgers blew open what was a nine-point game down the stretch to an easy 16-point win.
The victory helped UW collect its 17th straight win following a loss.
"Coach Ryan's a player," Nankivil said. "He's not going to let a team that he coaches lose twice in a row if he has anything to say about it. I think, for us too, it's a very business-like atmosphere and we expect to win every game. So regardless of what happened during the last game, or what's coming up in the future, we're always going to approach every game and try to win."
Wilson starts, then sits:
Ryan altered his starting lineup Wednesday evening by trading Josh Gasser for Rob Wilson and Mike Bruesewitz for Tim Jarmusz. Though he started his first game of the season, Wilson still struggled by picking up a couple of early fouls.
"It was disappointing to see him pick up those two quick fouls," Ryan said. "It broke his momentum from getting into the flow of the game. In all fairness, he didn't get the help that he needed on the quick curl. So we corrected that and made a change in behavior in something that wasn't going our way."
Wilson finished 0-for-1 shooting with three fouls in just 11 minutes of action.
In what has become a developing trend, senior guard Brett Valentyn continues to get meaningful minutes. And when he does, he makes the most of them.
During Wednesday's win over Michigan, Valentyn hit 1-of-2 shots from distance and added in a free throw that helped UW sustain momentum and maintain its edge on a streaky shooting Michigan squad. He played a total of 11 minutes.
"We like the things we've been seeing in practice from him," Ryan said. "It's about opportunity, it's about timing and he's never wavered on what he brings every day. Brett is a great example for all those young guys, in that he's worked hard and gotten a chance to play some.
"It only happens through hard work and dedication."
-Including tonight, Wisconsin has only trailed opposing teams at halftime 29 out of 156 home games under Bo Ryan. Of those 29, UW has come back to win 19.
-With a stellar performance from the charity stripe, Wisconsin ranks second nationally behind only Harvard with an 80.2 mark from the free throw line.
-By holding Michigan to only 50 points, Wisconsin has held an opponent to under 60 points for the 10th time in 15 tries. UW is 147-14 under Ryan when that happens.
-UW's starting lineup of Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson, Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil was a first this season.
-Tim Jarmusz dished four assists in Wisconsin's win. With that performance, the senior forward now owns a 9.0 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season (18 assists, 2 turnovers).
Bo Ryan in regards to predicting Sunday's NFL Playoff game against Green Bay and Philadelphia:
"My prediction? I got to know Aaron Rodgers now and I don't text, but we've actually exchanged a few text messages…but not recently. I'm not going to text him and I'm not going to wish him good luck because guys in Philly would kill me. It's going to be a great game. It's one of those where you'd like to be down on the sideline. You want a prediction? Overtime. Field goal wins it. Team in green. That's as far as I'm going."
The following are post game audio files: