Men’s hoops rides Big 3, Jarmusz’ shot in win over Illini

first_imgIllinois had no answer for Jon Leuer. The senior forward scored a game-high 26 points with 9 boards.[/media-credit]Thus far in 2011, the No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (13-4, 3-2) have their own version of The Big Three. In Saturday afternoon’s 76-66 win over No. 16 Illinois, Jon Leuer, Jordan Taylor and Keaton Nankivil scored a combined 62 points, more than 80 percent of the Badgers’ total scoring output.In the sloppy, sluggish Big Ten battle that saw a total of 54 fouls committed, both offenses struggled to settle into a rhythm. The first half was especially rough, as Wisconsin shot only 9-26 from the field (34.6 percent) and Illinois converted just 7-23 (30.4 percent).“I think if that was a dance, they’d have called it off. There was absolutely no rhythm,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “How would you like to have to officiate that? … That was a tough game to officiate, hard fought, guys getting after it.”Nevertheless, the Badgers’ stars found a way to win the game. After being limited to just 10 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday’s overtime loss at Michigan State, Leuer exploded for 26 points and nine rebounds against Illinois. The 6-foot-10, 228-pound forward shot 9-16 from the floor, converted 1-of-3 three-point attempts and hit 7-of-8 from the free throw line.Taylor, as Wisconsin’s primary offensive initiator, drove to the hoop frequently and went to the line 18 times. UW’s point guard nailed 16, making up for a poor 3-10 shooting effort to finish with 22 points.Finally, Nankivil followed up his hot shooting performance at MSU with a 14-point effort on 3-9 shooting, with all but one shot attempt coming from behind the arc. From the line, Nankvil was 5-6.“There’s no doubt Taylor and Leuer are obviously [Wisconsin’s] two main guys, but Nankivil, he’s a great spot-up shooter, he knows the system, he’s older,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “He knows how to play off of Leuer, play off of Taylor, play off of the system to get open shots. If he’s open, you kind of have a feeling it’s going to go in.”Outside of Leuer, Taylor and Nankivil, Wisconsin converted only three shot attempts. Jared Berggren, who was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Rob Wilson, was 1-4 from the floor and finished with two points and four rebounds. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward/center typically is a strong outside shooter – he was 5-11 from three-point range entering Saturday – but was 0-2 against Illinois. Tim Jarmusz and Mike Bruesewitz each contributed five points, while Josh Gasser was 2-4 from the charity stripe to finish with two points.“There’s no doubt, the key for [the Badgers] is the other guys, what they give them,” Weber said. “The big three were huge for them tonight … when they all get their big numbers, it’s tough to beat them.”Jarmusz chimes inJarmusz isn’t typically known for his statistical production, and Saturday’s game was no different. Jarmusz five points and five rebounds were a nice contribution considering his pregame averages of four points and 1.9 rebounds per game, but his impact might have been most felt on one particular shot in the first half.With five seconds remaining until halftime, Jarmusz nailed a three-pointer from the right corner. The shot sent the Badgers into the break up 27-25, and it was the first three Wisconsin converted all game. For the half, UW was 1-12.Most important, though, was the psychological lift Jarmusz’ shot provided. Instead of entering halftime down one to an Illinois squad that had already bested Wisconsin back on Jan. 2 – thanks to an ice-cold UW shooting effort, no less – the Badgers held the lead and the crowd was ignited. The momentum surely carried over to the second half, as Wisconsin emerged from halftime to build an 8-0 run that set the tone for the remainder of the game.“Oh, it was huge,” Ryan said, placing emphasis on the last word. “It was huge. Coming off Tuesday’s game, where it was a little miscalculation, and to hit that one with the clock winding down? I’ll take one out of two.”Ryan was referring to Tuesday’s game in East Lansing, Mich., where Jarmusz airballed a wide-open three-point attempt on Wisconsin’s final possession in regulation. Fortunately for the Badgers, Jarmusz was all net Saturday.“Jordan made a great decision,” Ryan said. “Tim’s guy helped, Jordan found him; that was big.”last_img