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No. 14 Wisconsin finishes strong to down Minnesota

Feb 29, 2012 - 5:03 AM Madison, WI (Sports Network) - Jordan Taylor scored 22 points, Ryan Evans had 12 and No. 14 Wisconsin blew out Minnesota in the second half, rebounding from a dry spell for a 52-45 victory Tuesday night.

It was slow going early on as Wisconsin (22-8, 11-6 Big Ten) didn't score any points during an eight-minute drought in the first half and trailed 23-16 at the break.

But the Badgers out-scored Minnesota 36-22 in the second half and clinched at least fourth place in the Big Ten and earned a bye in the first round of the conference tournament.

Andre Hollins scored 18 points and Rodney Williams added 11, but Minnesota (17-13, 5-12) lost its sixth straight game.

The Golden Gophers have lost three in a row to Wisconsin, including a setback on February 9 that kicked off their current skid. They have played ranked teams in five of their last six games.

"It was an ugly game as far as how we shot the ball, but I thought it was a very well-defended game," said Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. "They made some deep shots on us."

Things were looking up for the Gophers while Wisconsin didn't score a point between Taylor's free throws with 8:27 remaining in the first half and Evans' foul shots with 2:07 to play.

In between, the Gophers had stretched their lead to 10 points and they carried a 23-16 advantage into the break.

The Badgers, in fact, went without a field goal for about 14 minutes before a jumper by Taylor early in the second half.

Wisconsin didn't take the lead for good until a 12-2 run led by Taylor turned the tables. Taylor scored five straight at the end of the burst, hitting two foul shots after a technical and knocking down a three-pointer to make it 32-27.

The Badgers' lead reached as high as 10 points, but the game was never out of reach for Minnesota.

Both teams attempted 29 foul shots, with Wisconsin hitting 22 and Minnesota making 21. The Gophers went to the free throw line 13 times in the first half compared to just nine times for the Badgers.

"We've been in games like this. This is Big Ten basketball. If they're fouls, they're going to get called, and there were several of them, obviously," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. "You try your best; you try to get into position when you're on defense. You try to do certain things, but it was difficult to stop the ball both ways."

Gophers senior Ralph Sampson III had eight points, becoming the fifth player in program history to compile 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks. The others are Kevin McHale, Randy Breuer, Mychal Thompson and Michael Bauer.

Game Notes

Wisconsin's slow start came after a marquee win: Sunday's 63-60 victory over then-No. 8 Ohio State. The Badgers, who finish their regular season at home against Illinois on Sunday, shot just 30.8 percent in the game, held down by their 19 percent mark in the first half...Minnesota shot 23.9 percent. The Gophers' regular season finale is Saturday versus Nebraska at home.