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March 9, 2012
Wilson shoots Badgers past IU
Rob Wilson was trending worldwide on Twitter.INDIANAPOLIS -- Shortly after turning in the best performance of his career,
Everyone was talking about the senior guard averaging three points a game that just dropped 30 in the Big Ten tournament.
More than an hour after the final buzzer sounded on Wisconsin's 79-71 victory, Wilson still was trending throughout Big Ten country in cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis and of course, his hometown of Cleveland. But he knew there was someone else talking about his performance, too.
Wilson's mother, Deborah.
"She'd probably say, 'Good game, but do it again,'" said Wilson, who knew he would have text messages or a missed call from her, or both.
"This is my mom's mentality. She's always looking for next. Telling me to keep doing it consistently. She'll give me the 'I love yous' and all, and 'good game'. But my mom's just a hard worker. She always wants better."
Asking Wilson to do better than he did in Friday afternoon's Big Ten tournament quarterfinal matchup would be asking a lot. All he did was score 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting to carry the Badgers past a Hoosiers team that would not go away.
Wilson's previous career-best had been 13 points, a total he reached with 15:21 to play in the second half. And he promptly eclipsed that mark 35 seconds later with another 3-pointer on the Badgers' ensuing possession.
"Needless to say, we had a player that was in the zone, and his teammates found him," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "He worked hard to get open and I think Rob Wilson is the story of the game as far as our offensive end goes."
It was just that kind of day for Wilson. Everything he threw in the direction of the hoop seemed to go in. Especially from beyond the arc, where the senior guard hit 7-of-10 shots. The only place Wilson even remotely struggled was at the free throw line, hitting 1-of-2 attempts, while he shot 68.8 percent overall and 70 percent from 3-point range.
Over a stretch of 4 1/2 minutes in the second half, beginning with that 3-pointer at the 15:21 mark, Wilson connected on four straight attempts from outside, scoring 12 of the Badgers' 15 points over that stretch, including nine in a row before a Jordan Taylor made 3-pointer.
"Rob, he's a scorer; he can put it in the hole," Taylor said. "He showed that tonight.
"I'm just happy for him. I'm so happy, I almost feel like I had 30."
Wilson stepped up in the first half when Taylor was noticeably struggling, scoring 10 points and helping the Badgers shoot their way to a five-point halftime lead. He was even more assertive in the second half as Wilson's teammates found him open time and again.
Without such an impressive performance by Wilson, the Badgers would have been one-and-done in Indianapolis yet again. Instead, they'll get a third shot at Michigan State, against whom Wisconsin has lost twice this year.
"It's a good feeling because we get to play another game in the tournament," Wilson said. "And we get to go against a team that we failed to [beat] earlier this season, to prove something,"
Following a 3-pointer by Taylor with 10 1/2 to play in the first half, the Badgers held their biggest lead of the game at 11 points. But Indiana would not go down without a fight. And a good one at that.
The Hoosiers cut that lead to just three points with a 14-6 run over the next eight minutes, but the Badgers pushed it back to five at the break.
Indiana moved to within a pair just two minutes in the second half, and then to one point at the 15:41 mark. A couple of Wilson 3-pointers stretched it back to a five-point lead before IU got back to within two again with 12 1/2 minutes to play.
Even after UW built a nine-point advantage with 10:14 to go in the second half, the Hoosiers clawed back to within one with 3:47 to play before the Badgers finally put them away.
And of course, Wilson -- who else? -- hit the dagger. It came in the form of a 3-pointer -- what else? -- with 38 seconds to play that made it a seven-point game.
When he hit it, Wilson turned to the bench, where he saw his teammates going crazy.
"It felt great," he said. "A great feeling to see my teammates join in with me."