Jon Leuer scores 24 points as Badgers rally late
MADISON, Wis. -- In his first eight Big Ten games this season, Wisconsin's Ryan Evans scored a total of six points.
The sophomore reserve forward nearly matched that in the last minute of the Badgers' 66-59 victory over Purdue (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Tuesday nigh.
Evans hit a jumper from the free throw line with 50 seconds left to give the Badgers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) the lead for good, then added a key defensive play.
Senior Jon Leuer scored 24 points and junior Jordan Taylor added 15 as the Badgers (16-5, 6-3 Big Ten) again showed their ability to bounce back after a loss. Wisconsin, which lost 56-52 at Penn State on Saturday, has won its past 19 games after losses dating to January 2009.
"We've been talking about it all year, how we have guys on this team that you're not going to think twice about just because they might not be the big names or whatever," Taylor said.
"Ryan, we've been saying what he can give to this team all year long and it's a little show tonight -- and he can probably even add from there."
After D.J. Byrd's jumper in the lane put Purdue (18-5, 7-3) ahead 59-58 with 1:11 left, Evans got free at the foul line and calmly knocked down the go-ahead jumper.
"Those are the shots that he can hit," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "That's a very high percentage shot for him. So it wasn't a surprise."
With the Badgers leading 63-59, Evans tied up the Boilermakers' E'Twaun Moore as he drove to the basket and the possession arrow gave the ball to Wisconsin with 25 seconds left.
Evans put the finishing touch on the victory with a breakaway dunk in the final seconds for the last of his 10 points -- his first game in double figures since Nov. 20 and one shy of his career high.
"It's been a rough year for me," said Evans, who was 5 for 9 from the field after going just 3 for 6 in conference play heading into the game. "It felt real good, and hopefully I can just continue."
Purdue found itself down 27-19 after a ragged first half, but quickly got back into the game.
The Boilermakers used a 12-2 run to start the second half to take the lead, and scored 20 points in the opening 5:15 of the half -- surpassing their first-half total.
Senior JaJuan Johnson scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half for Purdue, which made 11 of its first 12 shots from the field after the break.
"We felt fortunate at halftime just to be in the game," said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team also got 15 points from Moore and 11 from Byrd as it lost its fourth straight road game. "And then our guys really came out and played with some life, played with some energy."
After Evans' shot gave the Badgers the late lead, Purdue turned to Johnson, but his long jumper with 36 seconds left was off the mark. The Boilermakers wouldn't score again.
Despite the big second half, which saw Purdue lead by seven points with 11:37 left, Johnson couldn't help but look back to the Boilermakers' poor first half.
"Once you kind of dig yourself in that kind of a hole, especially on the road, it definitely will come back to haunt you," he said.
With blizzard conditions outside, the attendance at the Kohl Center was announced as a sellout of 17,230, based on tickets sold. The official turnstile count was 9,739, but the crowd appeared to be roughly 13,000 or 14,000.
- Jim Burr
- Tom O'Neill
- Ted Hillary
2022-23 Big Ten Conference Standings