January 25, 2010

Notes: UW's sizeable comeback rather rare

MADISON - If you were wondering how long it has been since Wisconsin fought back from a 16-point second half deficit to claim victory, check your 1982 record books.

Sunday's thrilling, scintillating and downright surprising comeback win was the fourth largest second half deficit overcome for victory in program history. The last time anything similar happened was in November of 1982 against Toledo when UW overcame a 17-point tally to win.

Considering the most recent comeback came at the hands of a Big Ten foe, the 16-point turnaround was the second-largest second half deficit overcome against a conference team.

If you were wondering when the biggest margin overcome for victory occurred, you would need to head all the way back to 1976 when UW stormed back from an 18-point halftime deficit to win by one in overtime against Ohio State.

So, considering overcoming large deficits come once in a great while, Sunday's milestone day at the Kohl Center will go down in the books as one of the best games in its history.

Forget about the records and how Penn State hadn't won a game in league play. Forget that the Badgers are without one of their finest players in Jon Leuer. For the players and coaches involved in that particular game, and the way it played out on both sides, there was no shortage of excitement or drama.

That is why Sunday's game, though it was not necessarily a marquee opponent, was a marquee game on the day's slate.

"We have tough young men that will just go toe to toe with you for 40 and go another five if you have to," UW head coach Bo Ryan said after his 100th Big Ten win. "It's just the young men that we have that can make something like that happen when it seems like everything is going the other way."

Snake-bitten Penn State:

In the aftermath of a crazy comeback Badger win, it is difficult to see the other perspective. In the insanity that was the late run over the final two minutes and overtime that eventually spurred the UW victory, it is nearly impossible to digest what had happened to the team that came out on the losing side of the ball.

After opening a 16-point lead with just under 12 minutes to play, Penn State, the Kohl Center crowd and most everyone watching thought the Nittany Lions were on their way pulling a major upset for their first conference win.

Talor Battle was great as he went on to score a game high 28 points before fouling out and Chris Babb was just as lethal with his 16-point outburst. PSU has the pieces in place to be a team on the rise. Now, if they are able to start finding ways to win the close ones, they could be a nightmare for teams down the stretch run of league play.

"I told Ed afterwards that his teams offensively goes through some explosions that no team in the league has ever had," Ryan said. "If you take a look at some of their bursts this year, Penn State, can anybody put numbers up quicker than they can. I don't know."

But the same downfalls haunted the Lions again as Penn State watched its outburst get countered with a very quick 13-0 Badger run to cut the deficit to three with more than enough time to play.

But, like a poised team that looked anything but winless, Penn State weathered the storm and Talor Battle helped re-open an eight-point margin with two minutes to play.

When Andrew Ott threw down a powerful slam to cap that mini Nittany Lion run, the air was sucked out of the Kohl Center as easily as the ball went through the net. But then Jordan Taylor stepped up, Penn State started to turn the ball over and relinquish possessions and the cards fell into place from there.

Unfortunately for Penn State, their house of cards collapsed.

"I don't think we're bad," Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis said. "I just think we haven't been able to…you guys are all laughing, the guy hasn't won a game in the league and he thinks he isn't bad. I don't think we're bad, I just think we've been snake-bitten constantly."

Post game notes:

-With the win, Ryan ties former Indiana coach Branch McCracken as the second-fastest coach in conference history to record 100 Big Ten wins, doing so in 140 games. Bob Knight holds the record as he reached the milestone in only 131 games.

-Over the past six contests, UW has had a lower shooting percentage than its opponent every game. Still, the Badgers have been able to put together a 4-2 mark in those games. Under Bo Ryan, UW is 52-66 when being out shot, even with a 7-4 mark this season.

-UW has turned the ball over only five times or fewer in three of its past four games.

-Wisconsin had two 20-point scorers ([db]Trevon Hughes' 22 and Jordan Taylor's 20) for the first time since the Purdue win earlier this month.

-Three players logged career highs in minutes during Sunday's win. Hughes played 45 minutes, Keaton Nankivil played 42 and Rob Wilson played 36 minutes. Bohannon, who toppled the 1,000-point mark for his career, tied his career high with 43 minutes of action.

-Hughes and Taylor combined for 10 assists and zero turnovers.

Quote of the Year?

Jason Bohannon made one of the more athletic plays of the season for Wisconsin when he sprinted down the baseline, rose high into the air and swatted a Penn State shot that looked like a guaranteed lay up.

After the game, Hughes had probably the best quote of the season to date when he said the following in regards to that play.

"I used to love the movie 'White Men Can't Jump,' but J-Bo proved that white boys can jump. I don't know what Wesley Snipes was talking about."

Rising up:

Following two home victories over Michigan and Penn State last week, Wisconsin moved up to No. 16 in both major polls this week. Last week, after a win at Northwestern and loss at Ohio State the week prior, UW was ranked No. 18 and No. 19 respectively by the Coaches and A.P.

This week, UW will be tested with a game at No. 10 Purdue on Thursday night.

Quotable:

-Ryan on his 100th Big Ten win:

"What's really nice is that personally the stuff that has to be said about 100 wins, I'm glad that's over. From this standpoint, it's still about the players. It's still about what they do and what they hear. So in answer to is this more special or whatever, people already asked me just walking through the Kohl Center to come here, this was absolutely no different than any of the other ones. Believe me."

-Bohannon on his 1,000-point:

"It was another free throw out there. It's kind of something special to be in the likes of Trevon and everything. We've been here for four years and we've accomplished a lot of great things and that's certainly another thing in there. But I think the most important thing tonight was the victory."

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