Badgers hold off No. 2 Indiana for 64-59 upset
By MICHAEL MAROT
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Wisconsin is making Indiana its second home.
Even in basketball.
Ryan Evans scored 13 points, Traevon Jackson added 11 and the unranked Badgers used their typically deliberate, safe style to upset the second-ranked Hoosiers 64-59 and take sole possession of the conference lead.
Surprised? Not the Badgers.
“It’s huge you know,” Jackson said. “We’ll celebrate for 24 hours and then we got to get ready for Iowa. Just got to get ready for another one.”
The numbers tell the tale.
Wisconsin has won 11 consecutive games in this series, matching the second-longest streak of any school Indiana has played. The Badgers also won 11 straight over Indiana from 1912-19 and Purdue won 12 straight from 1908-14.
That’s not all.
The Badgers (13-2, 4-0) are the first team since 1923 to win a fifth consecutive game in Bloomington, matching a record achieved only three other times, most recently by Purdue, and they still have not lost to Indiana coach Tom Crean since he arrived in Bloomington in 2008.
And they got this win on a night that coach Bo Ryan was not feeling well and in the same state the Badgers have won their last two league championships in football.
“I really liked how hard our guys played, the adjustments our guys made on the court, I thought our assistant coaches did a great job in practice, getting us ready for this game because the head coach is a little under the weather,” Ryan said. “It’ like whoa! I feel like someone just took me in the corner and worked me over.”
If that’s not enough to convince the detractors, Wisconsin now has seven straight wins and two victories over Top 15 teams in the last four days by doing the same thing — slowing the pace, taking advantage of opportunities and limiting the turnovers. That’s Badgers basketball.
Indiana, which moved from No. 5 to No. 2 in The Associated Press poll on Monday, looked nothing like its usual self.
The nation’s highest-scoring team finished with fewer than 60 points for the first time all season. One of America’s top shooting teams finished with a season-low 37 percent from the field. And the only Big Ten school with five players averaging in double figures only had three players score at least 10 points.
Cody Zeller scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half when he was 8 of 8 from the field and finished with 10 rebounds to lead the Hoosiers (15-2, 3-1). Christian Watford added 11 points and Victor Oladipo had 10.
That wasn’t nearly good enough against a defense that turned this game into a possession-by-possession slog where baskets were scarce. Indiana struggled to adjust and missing shots certainly didn’t help.
“We just weren’t moving the ball like we should have, like we do, and I think when we see the film we’ll see that it’s not as much them as it was us,” Crean said. “I’m not taking anything away from them. They played well.”
In fact, the Badgers followed the script perfectly.
They committed just eight turnovers and took advantage of seemingly every opportunity they had, especially in the second half as Hoosiers fans moaned and groaned about everything from missed shots to errant passes.
Indiana opened the second half with a three-point play to extend its halftime lead to 35-31, but managed only six points over the next 6:34.
The drought opened the door for Wisconsin, which rallied with a 7-0 run to take a 38-37 lead. A few minutes later, the Badgers were off on a 9-0 spurt that ended when Mike Bruesewitz’s 3 beat the shot-clock buzzer to give Wisconsin a 47-39 lead.
“They bait you with their drives and kicks,” Crean said. “In the second half, they made shots and some of them reminded me of the Michael Jordan-Larry Bird McDonald’s commercial.”
Wisconsin led by as much as 51-41 before the Hoosiers finally cranked up the pressure.
Indiana scored four straight and after Evans made 1 of 2 free throws, the Hoosiers scored six straight to pull to 52-51 on Yogi Ferrell’s 3 with 4:40 to go.
But that was as Indiana got.
Ben Brust made a 17-foot jumper and the Badgers closed it out with a game-ending 12-8 run.
“It’s just what we normally do,” Ryan said. “We try to take away giving up easy baskets. I think everybody in the country says that, and then you’ve got to do it. Our guys have bought into that, especially tonight because Indiana is that good.”
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