Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wisconsin advances with 70-65 win over K-State

Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz (31) fights for a rebound between Kansas State's Curtis Kelly (24) and Jamar Samuels, right, during a Southeast Regional NCAA college basketball tournament third round game Saturday, March 19, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.

Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz (31) fights for a rebound between Kansas State's Curtis Kelly (24) and Jamar Samuels, right, during a Southeast Regional NCAA college basketball tournament third round game Saturday, March 19, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.


— Jordan Taylor couldn't hit a thing, missing open shots and contested ones from just about everywhere on the court.

He did so much more when it mattered, though, and Wisconsin is headed back to the round of 16 because of him.

Taylor hit two big free throws and blocked Jacob Pullen's 3-point attempt in the closing seconds to overcome a rough shooting night, lifting the Badgers to a 70-65 win over Kansas State on Saturday in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Taylor shot just 2 of 16 but came up with the biggest play of the game, swatting Pullen's tying attempt in the final seconds with Wisconsin (25-8) up three. Josh Gasser then hit two free throws to seal it, sending the fourth-seeded Badgers into the round of 16 for the fourth time since 2000.

Jon Leuer led Wisconsin with 19 points and Keaton Nankivil added 12. Taylor finished with 12 points, six assists, no turnovers and one big block.

Wisconsin moves on to face upset specialist Butler, a winner over top-seeded Pittsburgh, in the Southeast regional semifinals Thursday in New Orleans.

Pullen matched a career high with 38 points to break Mike Evans' school career scoring mark (2,115 points), but walked away wiping tears with his jersey after a stellar four years in the Little Apple. Curtis Kelly (11 points) was the only other player to score in double figures for No. 5 seed Kansas State (23-11).

Kansas State and Wisconsin met in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tournament, though only a handful of current players saw playing time in the Badgers' 17-point win.

The rematch, of sorts, was going to be all about which team could get the other to play at its pace.

Wisconsin wanted the game slow, to squeeze its opponent defensively and milk its deliberate, ball-control offense until late in the shot clock, the goal to either set up one of its multitude of shooters or allow Taylor to get into the lane for a layup or dish.

The Wildcats, with their slew of long, athletic players, wanted to turn the Badgers frenetic with pressure to set up easy baskets at the other end.

Kansas State had some speed-'em-up success against Utah State in its opener, hounding the Aggies in the first 20 minutes before holding on for the win in a sloppy second half.

Doing it against Wisconsin wasn't going to be easy.

The Badgers are on pace to set an NCAA record with 7.56 turnovers per game and are led by Taylor, whose 4.03 assist-to-turnover ratio was best in the nation. Wisconsin is also the best free throw shooting team in the country, close to another NCAA mark (Harvard, 82.2 percent in 1984) at 82.3 percent.

The Badgers played their deliberation operation to perfection in their NCAA opener, grinding down Belmont with 12 3-pointers while putting a spoke in the wheel of the Bruins' offense.

After a get-a-feel-for-it start, Wisconsin was able to establish its tempo in the first half against Kansas State, working the ball — deliberately, of course — around to set up shots along the perimeter. The Badgers made most of 'em, too, hitting 5 of 10 3-pointers in the first half to lead 36-30.

Pullen was a freshman when Wisconsin ran over the Wildcats in 2008 and seemed intent on getting payback four years in the making, firing up jumpers even with a hand in his face and dashing into the lane, scoring 17 points in the first half.

Other than an early flurry by Kelly, Pullen didn't get a lot of help, the rest of the team combining to miss its six shots in the first half.

Pullen got the Wildcats back in it quickly in the second half.

He opened by pulling up for a 3-pointer, then faked a pass behind his back to set up a layup and added another 3-pointer to cap a 9-0 run. K-State was back to its swarming ways at the defensive end to complement Pullen's shooting, forcing Wisconsin to miss its first six shots of the half.

The Badgers rallied, went through another string of missed shots and rallied again to set up the tense finish capped by Taylor's game-saving swat.


milehighhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

I've got nothing but respect for Jacob Pullen. Incredible performance, remarkable competitor, tremendous career.

Wish the Wildcats could have pulled it off for the sake of the conference, but can't say I'm shedding tears over it.

Machawk 9 years, 7 months ago

A tough loss for KSU, but they already won the equivalent of the National Championship in their eyes on 2/14/11 and have a DVD to prove it.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 7 months ago

dude dribbled it away on a break away, missed a crucial free throw, and got his shot blocked on what seemed like three straight trips at the end of the game. , ,

but dude was on fire!

regardless, those guys are going to be in a lot of trouble next year. with all of their scoring gone and the previous defectors (no harm of malic, but still might make you chuckle) they are going to fall hard.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 7 months ago

and why is there a picture of number 31 from wisc. with his red hair and red shoes he looked like a candle burning from both ends.

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 7 months ago

Pullen is a stud. His jersey will be retired at the Doom. To be the all-time leading scorer at K-State just validates that honor of putting his jersey in the rafters. It will be interesting to see what the Wildcats can come up with next year. The cupboard could be kind of bare.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 7 months ago

bad news for jayhawk nation. looks like we could be losing 2 more free wins every year if mu hires a coach that knows what he is doing.

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Quinn Snyder will be invited back---LOL.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 7 months ago

Glad ya'll got to see why I've been bragging on the Badgers all year. Pullen's two best games of the year against KU and UW. I'm glad my teams won't see him again, although I enjoy watching a great competitor like him. Go KU, beat U of I

Saguaro_Jayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Felt sorry for Nankinvil [sp?] tonight. He got his forehead raked above the right eyebrow and it must have been a deep gash as butterfly bandages didn't do the trick. They took him to locker room for stiches.

Then Leuer got his dome busted open a little later; stitches too!

Even though both were not intentional, I thought elbows to an opponent's face were a point of emphasis in this yr's rules. Thought Wiscy should have shot FTs after each instance. Oh well . . .

Saguaro_Jayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

Got back from their game a while ago.

Pullen was amazing in person, up close. He puts up one of the softest balls I've seen in quite a while. If his shot hits rim, it rarely ricochets. He needs to be careful about that off arm he often uses to create space when dribble penetrating though. Not sure how long it will take him to get that call in the league. Most rooks get it called an offensive foul until they prove themselves.

Was a shame Pullen did not have anyone else he could depend on, like a Milt Newton type, to take some pressure off of him tonight. Kelly and Samuels are too erratic shooting. Spradling seemed to have a tough time knowing where some of his teammates, especially Samuels and Kelly, like to get the ball.

McGruder chucked a few entertaining air balls which seemed to really hurt.

Will be interesting to see who Martin can recruit for next yr's team, especially if he can sustain a connection talent from NYC or D.C. areas.

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