MADISON - There is no question that several Wisconsin teammates and coaches want Keaton Nankivil to be more aggressive when he plays. On Saturday, at least for one momentum swinging play in the second half, he did just that.
After UW held a 30-29 edge to start the second half, the Badgers and Boilers traded buckets within the first minutes of the frame. From there, Trevon Hughes, who made all three of his shots and finished with 14 points, hit a jumper to give the Badgers a three-point lead.
Then Nankivil decided he wanted in on the action.
After missing an initial jumper, Nankivil collected his own miss and went up strong. After missing that second shot, he reeled in his own miss again and went up strong a third time.
Only this time, the junior forward decided that attempting to lay the ball in amongst the trees had gone far enough as he rose up and threw down a powerful one-handed slam that made the Kohl Center erupt and forced Matt Painter to call a 30 second timeout.
"I tried to open the garage door the other day," UW head coach Bo Ryan said after the game. "And there was snow outside the door. I was going to take a different route to pick up my crossword puzzle (in) the newspaper. I banged the door, I banged the door and man, that snow
.on that third one, I'm telling you there was no snow on the other side of that door.
"How about Keaton. He goes up once, goes up twice and the next one he flushed all the snow right on out. You can bang your head, you can bang your head. How about that, though. The place went crazy.
"He's such an even keeled guy, he might have surprised himself."
The rest is history. That dunk helped spur a 17-4 run to start the second half and really kept Purdue out of running what it likes to do and forced the Boilermakers to play from behind.
Young Players Making An Impact:
Obviously Jordan Taylor and his 23-point effort off the bench played a major role in the outcome of Saturday's game. In fact, I am willing to bet the Badgers don't win this game without that contribution. But I am going to focus on some other players for a minute instead.
When Mike Bruesewitz entered the game with around six minutes left in the first half, he walked onto the court that had seen Purdue out-rebound UW by a 16-11 margin. By the time the first half ended, UW had swung that pendulum and finished with a 20-17 edge in the category for the half.
And by the time the game was over, UW had won the rebounding battle by a score of 39-32.
Give credit to Bruesewitz and his five rebounds in six minutes of action and Rob Wilson and his three rebounds during that stretch for that turn around.
"We put him (Bruesewitz) in today," Ryan said. "He's going to be a good player, he is a good player. In practice, man, he was Hummel and he was knocking down some shots. Of course people always say it's easier on the scout team because you don't have to worry about me yelling at him because he's on the other side.
"Mike was Hummel and he was tough. Then, he was Mike Bruesewitz today in the game and he was himself. He played hard and made some good things happen."
Following a game where several of the young players struggled in a loss, Saturday's effort was much more in line with the way they are capable of playing.
Taylor dominated the game at times, Ryan Evans played stellar defense on Robbie Hummel and Wilson made his fair share of plays on the offensive side of the ball.
To say a lesson was learned against MSU, might be an understatement.
"It's always easier to play at home," Taylor said. "Obviously you've got to win games at home and Michigan State obviously did a great job. The Breslin Center is always one of the toughest places to play, but we think the Kohl Center is even tougher. I just think making big plays as a young guy and hearing the crowd get into it are the kind of things you grow up watching on T.V. and you want to do.
"It's cliché, but you just kind of feed off the crowd and just keep getting more confident every play you make."
Small Turnover Numbers Equate to Big Wins:
Against Duke earlier in the season, Wisconsin only committed five turnovers in its upset win over the Blue Devils. Today, against another top five-ranked opponent, the Badgers only committed eight, including only one in the second half that came on an errant Hughes 'Hail Mary' late in the game.
As a result, both games ended in the right fashion for the Badgers.
"We knew coming in that whoever won the loose balls, the 50-50 balls, was probably going to win the game," Taylor said. "At Michigan State we didn't get a lot of those which is a big reason we didn't win. Purdue is an aggressive team and today we might have been a little more aggressive than them.
"But we have to play them again and the next step is going to Mackey Arena and still being aggressive."
Bohannon's Big Day:
As a senior, Jason Bohannon has been around for quite some time and has played in many games. But Saturday's 20-point effort on 6-of-10 shooting in one of the bigger games of his career might have been his best.
"I played very well," Bohannon, who also tied a career best with three blocks, said. "I'm not really basing how we did on my performance. As a team effort, we did very well. We did a lot of right things. We rebounded well, we shot well and we played well. There were a couple of lapses there throughout the game, but for the most part, our team played a great game."
-With the win over Purdue, UW is now 4-1 against opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 this season. And also with the win, UW has improved to 20-7 at the Kohl Center against ranked foes.
-UW is undefeated at home this season and now boasts a 15-game winning streak at the Kohl Center.
-This is the Badgers second win over a top-10 opponent on the year. It marks the first time since the 2006-07 season that UW has accomplished that task. In that season, UW beat No. 2 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Ohio State.
-Entering the game, Purdue was forcing over 18 turnovers on average. The Badgers finished the game with eight.
-Taylor finished the day with a career high in points (23), free throws made (8) and free throws attempted (11)
-Trevon Hughes moved into 26th place on UW's all-time scoring list with 1,086 points and needs one more steal to tie Trent Jackson for seventh in school history. Hughes currently has 150 steals.
-Jon Leuer grabbed 10 rebounds, marking his third career double digit rebound game and third of the season.
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