Success in the NCAA tournament is often defined by the quality of a team’s guard play, and in senior Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin has one of the country’s best floor generals. On Tuesday, when the fourth-seeded Badgers beat No. 13 Montana, 73-49, in an East Region second-round matchup, Taylor showed off why Wisconsin’s deliberate, grind-it-out style could make the Badgers a tough out in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Taylor scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists as Wisconsin never saw its lead drop below double digits in the second half. Forward Ryan Evans added a game-high 18 points against a Montana squad that just couldn’t keep up with the Badgers after the game’s opening minutes.
Wisconsin will face either No. 5 seed Vanderbilt or No. 12 seed Harvard in the third round Saturday in Albuquerque.
After taking a 10-point lead into halftime, Wisconsin went ahead by 16 before the first media timeout of the second half when Taylor nailed a three-pointer. But the Grizzles mounted a momentary charge.
Forward Mathias Ward and guard Will Cherry hit consecutive three-pointers of their own that forced Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan to use a timeout. Out of the break, though, Taylor connected on a lay-in and forward Mike Bruesewitz soon followed with a three-pointer to push the lead back to 15.
The Badgers were efficient offensively most of the afternoon, shooting 48 percent and handing out 15 assists on 23 field goals. Montana’s Art Steward scored 18 points, but he was the lone Grizzlies player to finish in double figures.
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