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Surprise! Wisconsin’s whole much greater than the sum of its parts

Mar 20, 2011, 12:27 AM EDT

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Only a Wisconsin Badger player  could shoot 2-16 from the floor and allow his primary defensive assignment to score a career high 38 points, yet still find a way to be the unofficial player of the game.

Yes that’s right. The Wisconsin Badgers pulled off a huge 70-65 victory over Kansas State, one that was earned with the collective effort of all its players. The act was tough to follow after that gobbeldygook ending to known as Butler – Pittsburgh. But if you’re a college basketball junkie you may have appreciated Kansas State – Wisconsin just as much, as both teams posted efficiency ratings above 118 and changed leads a handful of times.

That aforementioned unofficial player of the game, Jordan Taylor – despite getting fairly embarrassed for 38 by the newly anointed most prolific scorer in Kansas State history, Jacob Pullen – knocked down a momentum-shifting three late, and game up with the game ending block on Pullen to help secure victory for Bucky. Just like that, Taylor went from goat to hero.

Taylor accumulated a bevy of supporters this season after temporarily being left off the final Cousy Award ballot, only to be mysteriously added with no real official word. Some even went as far to call him the game’s best point guard, but tonight he struggled mightily on both ends of the floor, struggling mightily on offense and getting repeatedly dribbled around by Pullen, as the Wildcat senior capped off a bittersweet career in his final college basketball game.

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The victory was quintessential of the philosophy employed up in Madison. Never a program to chase McDonalds All-Americans or players anxious to jump into the NBA Draft, Wisconsin’s victory was attributable to all nine of its players that saw minutes tonight.

I’ve bashed the Badgers recently for being just an average program that’s masked by their near invincibility at the Kohl Center, but tonight’s win came in dramatic fashion, and there’s no doubt that this is as proud a program in America. One that is making me munch on a little bit of crow this evening.

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