Posts Tagged ‘Purdue Boilermakers’

Evans puts on show in victory over Boilermakers

February 3, 2011 Comments off

MADISON — As usual, Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor dominated the Badgers’ stat sheet Tuesday night against the Boilermakers.

But on a night when a blizzard turned the University of Wisconsin campus into a snow globe, it was Wisconsin’s lone Arizona native that stole the spotlight in the 66-59 victory over Purdue.

Sophomore swingman Ryan Evans delivered by far his best performance of the season, and one that ranks right up there among the best in his young career.

Something seemed to spark Evans on the night, as he continued to improve as the game went along. When asked about it, he attributed his energy to teammate Wquinton Smith and UW Chancellor Biddy Martin.

“It’s been a rough year for me,” Evans said. “But [my coaches and teammates] continuing to believe in me, I knew that something had to get me going. I think one of the big things in the second half was Q — Q got in a little toss up with [Lewis] Jackson — and Biddy, I don’t know if Biddy’s in here but Biddy announcing that we don’t have school tomorrow, that got the fans going some.

“It felt real good, and hopefully I just can continue.”

Evans shot 5-of-9 on the night for 10 points — his fifth career double-digit performance and first of the season — while grabbing one rebound and one steal. But the numbers on the box score hardly do Evans’ performance justice.

After scoring four points in nine first-half minutes, Evans hit three of the biggest shots of the night in the second half.

With his team trailing by six with 10 minutes to go, Evans slammed home a lob from Taylor, electrifying the crowd and completely changing the momentum of the game. But that dunk was only the beginning.

“Any time you can get a guy who can get the crowd off its feet like Ryan can — that dunk was big,” Taylor said. “It was probably almost perfect timing. It couldn’t get any better than that, it got the crowd back into it.”

With the crowd back behind them, the Badgers battled the Boilermakers in a back-and-forth game over the final 10 minutes, with a handful of plays by Evans putting Wisconsin over the top.

In the final minute, as UW trailed by one following a layup by Purdue guard D.J. Byrd, Evans got the ball just inside the lane and without hesitation, pulled up for the two-point jumper. As it went through with 50 seconds remaining, Evans gave the Badgers the lead back, and one they would not relinquish.

“Those are the shots that he can hit,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “That’s a very high percentage shot for him. So it wasn’t a surprise. If you look at the baskets he made last year, those are the types of shots that he shoots a very high percentage on.

“Looks good coming through the bottom of the net, because that means it makes the scoreboard move.”

With two big second half shots to his credit, Evans had more than done his part, especially considering he entered the game averaging just 2.7 points per game on the year and 0.8 points per contest in Big Ten play. But he still was not done.

After a Josh Gasser free throw gave Wisconsin a four-point lead with 31 seconds to play, Evans took the ball away from E’Twaun Moore on the other end. Evans’ steal set up a pair of Taylor free throws, which all but sealed the deal.

Finally, in a fitting end that he could not have scripted better himself, Evans delivered the game’s final points to give the Badgers the 66-59 victory.

Following a long rebound off a Moore missed three, Taylor found Evans streaking to the basket all alone. Once again, the crowd erupted as Evans threw down an emphatic breakaway dunk.

“We’ve been talking all year round about how we have guys that people might not think twice about just because they might not be the big names,” Taylor said. “Ryan, we’ve been saying what he can give to this team all year long. It was just a little show tonight, he can probably even add from there.”


Notes: Third downs critical on D

November 7, 2010 Comments off

WEST LAFAYETTE – Most of the focus after the Badgers’ second half turnaround led to a 34-13 victory was on the turnovers, which seemed to spark the entire team.

Simple execution may have had something to do with it, too.

In the first half, Wisconsin ran into a familiar problem as it struggled to stop Purdue on third downs. The Boilermakers were 6 for 9 on third down conversions, as the UW defense struggled to get off the field and give its offense an opportunity to put point on the board.

“We knew the only way we were going to win this ballgame was getting off the field on third downs, and we were able to do that in the second half,” said linebacker Culmer St. Jean, who shifted the momentum with a third quarter interception.

The Boilermakers’ converting on two-thirds of their third-down attempts was even better than the 9 of 18 mark put up by Michigan State as they handed Wisconsin its only loss early last month.

If the Badgers didn’t turn things around after halftime, they were likely headed for a second road loss in Big Ten play. Fortunately, as head coach Bret Bielema said in his postgame press conference, they didn’t need anything resembling superhuman effort to turn things around.

“It was just about execution,” St. Jean said. “In the first half, we had people there and we weren’t tackling. That was one of the things that we stressed going into this game, we knew we were going to have guys in space and we had to get them down. We weren’t able to do that in the first half, and in the second half we just swarmed and kept getting the ball.”

In particular, defensive end J.J. Watt pointed to the team’s performance on first and second down defensively, which made third downs more difficult for Wisconsin and easier to convert for Purdue.

When they went out in the second half, the Badgers forced the Boilermakers to pick up more yardage on third down, averaging 3rd-and-5 on 10 attempts. Purdue went 3-for-10 on third down in the second half.

“When you’re putting them in 3rd-and-long, you’re going to give them tough situations,” Watt said. “We did that well in the second half and obviously that paid off.”

Injury updates

For safety Jay Valai, the bye week wasn’t quite as beneficial to his health as it was for most of his teammates.

After aggravating his right calf on Wednesday, the senior further injured it Thursday, partially tearing the muscle. When the game rolled around Saturday, he was noticeably limited by the injury, especially in the first half.

Eventually, the coaches were forced to sub Shelton Johnson in for Valai.

“Being a senior, you always want to be on the field, but at that point in time, I was more hurting the team than helping the team, so I think that was a smart decision,” Valai said. “It felt a little better in the second half, but it’s still something I need to work on.”

Amid the Badgers’ troubles in the first half, Watt appeared to have suffered an injury, leaving him on the Ross-Ade Stadium turf a little longer than everyone else.

He got up and walked off under his own power, but nonetheless, provided a scare to the Wisconsin players, coaches and fans. Afterward, he expressed little concern over the shoulder injury.

“I was extended out and I dove, and my shoulder kind of clicked in and out,” Watt said. “I’m feeling pretty good now. I’ve still got a little bit of adrenaline going, so we’ll see tomorrow, but I don’t see it holding me out at all.”

While there was plenty to celebrate about in the second half of the 34-13 victory, Wisconsin saw center Peter Konz go down with an injury. As he walked off the field afterward, Konz appeared to be in significant pain, while using crutches and wearing a boot on his right leg.

According to Bielema, the sophomore aggravated the right ankle he injured against Ohio State, which forced senior Bill Nagy to take over at center once again.


St. Jean on his second-half interception

“First I went to my drops and it was an out route, so I knew I wasn’t able to get there. We had extra leverage on that side so I just dropped back and read the quarterback and he took me right to the ball.”

Watt on second-half comeback

“It says we have some good character, we have guys who understand the situation, when we get down we can’t get out. We came back in the second half and played like a first-place team plays, and that’s what we need to do from here on out.”

Watt on the team’s first-half play

“It wasn’t necessarily flat, we just didn’t tackle very well on defense and didn’t put together a very good half.”

John Moffitt on the first half struggles

“I think we came out the first half, there were a lot of looks we didn’t see [before], we weren’t executing right away, and maybe a little hangover from the two weeks off. But you don’t really want to lean on that excuse, because you’ve got to be ready to play at all times.”

Moffitt on the change after halftime

“Obviously, the second half, the execution was there, we were doing the right things, the defense looked great and that made the difference.”

Moffitt on what the comeback says about the team

“Guys didn’t quit. The guys fight to the end and that’s what we need because the game’s not over until the last second ticks off the clock and I think guys understand that.”

Mike Taylor on the team’s slow start

“Yeah, you could say we were flat. It took us a little while to kind of get warmed up I guess, but we came out excited in the second half and took care of business.”

Antonio Fenelus on the turnovers in the second half

“It was very big. In the first half we didn’t come out and do as best as we could. We got talked to after that and they just told us to go out there and just play to the best of our abilities and that’s what I went out there and did.”

Fenelus on getting two turnovers in one game

“It feels real good. I haven’t had a pick since the third game of the season, so it feels good to be just go out there and be able to make a play on the ball.”

Montee Ball on the shift in momentum

“We came in here, got our mistakes down and had a chance to talk to everybody. Coach had a chance to talk to us, and we knew we needed to come out and play Wisconsin football and we get focused because we weren’t in the first half. Once we came out and we knew our assignments, we went out and did it.

“In the first half, I had to knock the dust off a bit from the bye week and we all had to. But once we came out of the locker room, we knew ‘This is our half, and we’ve got to produce.'”

Scott Tolzien on the offense

“Offensively it was a struggle for us, and that’s going to happen at times. But I thought the defense was just tremendous, especially in the second half.”

Tolzien on the team’s slow start

“What frustrates me is, that was one of the things that we emphasized in the bye week. We wanted to start fast because that’s always a concern when you have a week off. We didn’t do that.”

Badgers roll after slow start

November 6, 2010 Comments off

WEST LAFAYETTE – For two weeks, the Wisconsin football team talked about focusing on Purdue and not taking any team lightly, especially on the road.

That didn’t stop the Boilermakers from making things interesting Saturday against the Badgers at Ross-Ade Stadium. For two quarters, Purdue controlled the game, leading 10-3 at the half before Wisconsin dominated the final 30 minutes for the 34-13 victory.

Coming out in the second half, the Badgers turned the game around with something they had lacked this season entering Saturday’s game: turnovers.

“We did think at halftime, after we kind of saw their offensive plan, that we might be able to get our hands on a couple balls,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “We talked about being opportunistic, and obviously that started off the second half pretty good.”

On its opening drive of the second half, Purdue faced 3rd-and-5 on its own 25-yard line. A Sean Robinson pass was intercepted by Culmer St. Jean, who returned it 14 yards to the 18-yard line.

St. Jean’s grab set up a 7-yard touchdown reception by Jared Abbrederis in the back of the end zone, giving Wisconsin its first lead at 13-10, and setting the tone for the final two quarters of play.

“I was just trying to be opportunistic and make a play,” St. Jean said. “I was able to get that and that was able to trigger the whole team to just keep rolling.”

“When you can come out and get a turnover like that right away, it obviously sparks your whole defense and it sparks your team,” J.J. Watt said. “That was a great way to start the half for us and obviously steamrolled through the rest of the half.”

St. Jean’s interception was the second turnover of the day for the Wisconsin defense. On the Boilermakers’ first possession of the second quarter, Robinson found Antavian Edison on 2nd-and-10 at the Wisconsin 31-yard line, but Edison fumbled the ball to Antonio Fenelus, who picked it up and ran to the Purdue 27-yard line.

Fenelus’ recovery and return stopped what looked to be Purdue’s second scoring drive of the day, while also setting Wisconsin up for its first points, a 44-yard Philip Welch field goal.

“Huge,” Bielema said of the fumble. “They were going in for a score there. I was holding my breath on that challenge, because that challenge came in pretty quick. … Fortunately for us we were able to get points there.”

Following the fumble and subsequent Wisconsin field goal, the Badgers limited the Boilermakers to just twoCarson Wiggs field goals, despite falling behind 7-0 early. With a 20-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, Mike Taylor added his name to the list of those that secured turnovers for UW.

Taylor made an impressive play on a second down Robinson pass, making the interception at the Purdue 40-yard line and returning it 26 yards before he was tripped up at the 14-yard line. On the day, Taylor had six tackles, two for loss, one sack and one interception.

Following a 1-yard loss on first down, Montee Ball rushed 15 yards for an easy touchdown, giving the Badgers a 27-13 lead and all but putting the game out of reach for the Boilermakers. Ball’s touchdown run was his second of the day, as he rushed for a season-high 127 yards on 21 carries.

“The one I liked the most was one of our zone plays that we had,” Ball said of his touchdown run. “I hit the cut back and just hit it up for like 10 yards or so. That was nice. The line did a great job of giving me the hole and I just hit it.”

On the very next drive for Purdue, it was Fenelus who struck again, shutting the door on any potential Boilermaker comeback.

Robinson threw incomplete on first down, setting up 2nd-and-10 at his own 31-yard line. Fenelus jumped in front of the pass, and returned it 31 yards for the score. With the lead up to 34-13, the Badgers’ second half resurgence made the final score look as if it had been in control the entire time.

Not only that, with a fumble recovery and three interceptions, Wisconsin nearly doubled its season total of interceptions after entering with 11 through nine games.

“I said last week I think turnovers kind of come in bunches,” Taylor said. “You get one and everybody gets hyped up.”

His head coach agreed.

“As long as I’ve been in this game, it seems like the more you try to emphasize it, they don’t come, and then all of a sudden they come in a flurry,” Bielema said. “The kids really did a good job. You’ve got to catch those passes, you’ve got to get them in the end zone, and they were able to do that.”

Ball runs to 2nd straight big game

November 6, 2010 Comments off

WEST LAFAYETTE – Talk about taking advantage of what is given to you.

After spending the first two months of the season seeing his playing time severely limited due to the emergence of freshman James White, third-string running back Montee Ball has never stopped working to help his team.

It paid off in a big way Saturday at Purdue.

Ball reemerged as an important part of the Wisconsin offense when White went down with an injury at Iowa, scoring the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

His performance at Ross-Ade Stadium was even better.

“Montee knew pretty much all week it was going to be John and Montee,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “He was snapped in and just another example of great preparation by him.”

For the first time this season, Ball knew all week he would be the No. 2 option out of the backfield, a role he played well late in his freshman season.

When Saturday’s game rolled around, Ball simply went out and rushed for 127 yards on 21 carries and two big second-half touchdowns.

“I knew that the team was going to look for me to come in strong,” Ball said. “I wasn’t going to let them down.”

Early on, the Badgers went with a heavy dose of John Clay, with less than desirable results. When Clay got banged up during the course of the game, the load was all on Ball’s shoulders.

To say he responded well would be quite the understatement.

Ball finished the first half with just nine yards rushing on four carries, eight of which came on a single carry in the Badgers’ final drive of the second quarter. Over the final 25:32 of play, Ball ran for 118 yards on 17 carries, for an average of nearly seven yards per rush.

Midway through the third quarter, Ball helped the Badgers reel off a two-play, 51-yard, 38-second scoring drive. After a 20-yard pass to Nick Toon, Ball took the ball down the left sideline 31 yards for the score, diving for the pylon and giving UW some breathing room at 20-10.

“I just kept running behind the blocks, waiting for them to set up,” Ball said. “It was just there, so I just kind of leaped over them a little bit and reached the ball a little bit.”

Ball reeled off another run of 26 yards on the Badgers’ first drive of the fourth quarter before getting his second touchdown of the day when Wisconsin got the ball back for a second drive in the period.

Following Mike Taylor‘s impressive interception, Ball took the handoff twice, losing a yard on first down and finding a huge hole for his second touchdown of the day, this time from 15 yards out.

“He did a great job,” John Moffitt said of Ball. “The way he can step up, it’s so nice to have three backs that can do that. Running the football here is not easy, we put a lot of carries in your hands and it’s going to be tough, but Montee definitely stepped up.”

Ball found out just what it meant to be the Badgers’ every down back on the game’s final drive. Wisconsin ran 10 plays for 40 yards, eating up 5 minutes and 50 seconds off the clock.

Each of the 10 plays was a handoff to Ball.

“When you come here, the team’s going to put the load on your shoulders and you’ve got to be able to carry it,” Ball said. “That’s what I feel like I did. The O-line did a great job up front pushing them, and I just don’t want to let them down.”