CHICAGO — Ryan Evans jumps when he shoots free throws. Ben Brust looks as if he just got his driver’s license, and Mike Bruesewitz’s shaggy hair draws snickers every time Wisconsin goes on the road.
The Badgers may not look like a top team, but they sure play like one.
Evans scored 16 points in a terrific all-around performance and No. 22 Wisconsin upset No. 3 Indiana 68-56 in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament Saturday.
“We’re playing our best basketball at the end of the season, and that’s what you want to do,” Bruesewitz said.
The Badgers allowed only seven points after the top-seeded Hoosiers pulled within one with 9:45 left. They earned their 12th consecutive win against Indiana, tying a record for any school against the powerhouse program, and will play No. 10 Ohio State in Sunday’s final.
“There are just things in this game, no matter how you try to explain them, they defy explanation,” Ryan said, shrugging away Wisconsin’s long run against Indiana. “But we have players who are willing to work, to listen, to buy in.”
Brust added 12 points for Wisconsin (23-10), which has won three straight and six of eight. Sam Dekker scored nine of his 11 points in the second half, including seven in a row during one impressive burst.
Christian Watford scored 14 points for Indiana (27-6), and Cody Zeller had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Victor Oladipo scored 10, but was 4 for 12 from the field.
The Hoosiers, who won the regular-season conference title, now have to wait until Sunday to see if they did enough to earn a coveted No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.
“Obviously we wanted to get this win today,” Zeller said. “We’ll learn from it, we’ll figure out what we did wrong. We’ll make the corrections and be ready for next week.”
Zeller and Oladipo each made a couple of big plays when Wisconsin tried to pull away in the second half. Zeller scored the first five points in a 10-0 run that gave the Hoosiers a 41-40 lead with 13:27 remaining. Oladipo soared in for a big offensive rebound and made a pull-up jumper during a quick six-point burst that got Indiana within one with 9:45 remaining.
The Badgers then ripped off eight of the next 10 points to open a 58-51 lead. Evans had a layup, Brust went 1 for 2 at the line, Jared Berggren made a big 3-pointer and Dekker dunked inside off a nice pass from Jackson.
“Just biding my time, picking my spots,” Berggren said of his only 3-point attempt in a 4-for-4 performance from the field. “I was open a couple times. Coaches told me to be aggressive. I was looking for a great shot, not a good one. It felt good.”
That strong stretch was enough to put away the Hoosiers, who managed just two field goals in the final 5:02. Watford also hurt Indiana’s chances when he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2:15 to go and the Badgers up by five.
“We made a couple comebacks this game, and did an excellent job of that,” coach Tom Crean said. “But every time we made that comeback with what was working for us, we got away from it. We had some critical turnovers at key times, we had some critical second shots we gave up at key times.”
Berggren finished with 11 points for the Badgers, who shot 51 percent from the field. Evans had eight rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots and a steal.
Wisconsin joins Purdue as the only schools with 12 straight victories against Indiana. The Boilermakers put together their run from Feb. 26, 1908, to Feb. 9, 1914.
“You take advantage of what you can, try to get good opportunities every time down, and try to limit their opportunities,” Ryan said. “It’s that constant clash. The game never changes. I’ve never outcoached anyone, outmaneuvered anyone, outstrategized anyone.”
With open looks hard to come by on each side of the court, the Hoosiers and Badgers turned to the 3-pointer in the first half to try to make some room for their big men inside.
Watford and Remy Abell made 3-pointers on consecutive Indiana possessions to help the Hoosiers open a 20-14 lead with 9:04 remaining. Wisconsin responded with a 12-2 spurt that included 3s from Brust and Bruesewitz.
Wisconsin was 7 for 18 from long range for the game, compared to 5 for 17 for Indiana.
“The biggest story for us was we’ve been defending the 3 the last six, seven games at an incredibly high level, and today we didn’t,” Crean said. “They got some kick-out 3s and things of that nature, but we got away from what had been making us better.”
NO. 7 KANSAS 70,
NO. 11 KANSAS STATE 54
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeff Withey had 17 points and nine rebounds, Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe added 12 points each, and Kansas pounded Kansas State to win its ninth Big 12 tournament championship.
The top-seeded Jayhawks (29-5), who shared the regular-season title with their in-state rival, took a 24-16 lead at halftime and then slowly stretched it in the second half.
The Wildcats (27-7) struggled to match Withey and Ellis in the paint, losing for the third time this season to the Jayhawks and for the 47th time in their last 50 meetings.
Rodney McGruder scored 18 points despite a poor first half, and Angel Rodriguez had 10 for Kansas State, which still has not won a conference tournament in more than 30 years.
NO. 10 OHIO STATE 61,
NO. 8 MICHIGAN STATE 58
CHICAGO — Aaron Craft came on strong in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead Ohio State to the Big Ten tournament final.
Craft keyed a seven-point spurt midway through the second half that stretched the lead to eight at 55-47, and the Buckeyes (25-7) came away with the win after Michigan State (25-8) pulled within one. The victory avenged a loss in last year’s championship game
It was 57-56 after Derrick Nix converted a three-point play for Michigan State with 1:54 remaining, but Craft hit a free throw. Thomas grabbed a huge rebound off a missed 3 by Shannon Scott to keep the possession going and scored in the paint after a timeout to make it a four-point game.
The Buckeyes will go for their third championship in four years when they meet Wisconsin.
NO. 9 MIAMI 81, N.C. STATE 71
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Durand Scott scored a career-high 32 points to help Miami earn its first trip to the ACC championship game.
Shane Larkin added 23 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (26-6), who led the entire way and by 19 points late in the first half. Miami shot 46 percent behind Scott, a senior guard who went 12 for 18 from the field and 5 for 8 from 3-point range.
NO. 13 FLORIDA 61, ALABAMA 51
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kenny Boynton scored 11 straight points during a 15-0 second-half run as Florida rallied from 10 points down to advance to the SEC tournament title game.
The top-seeded Gators (26-6) will face Mississippi today while . Alabama (21-12), the tournament’s No. 4 seed, will wait to learn its fate from the NCAA tournament selection committee.
NO. 15 NEW MEXICO 63, UNLV 56
LAS VEGAS — Tony Snell scored 13 straight points for New Mexico during a second-half run as the Lobos pulled away late and added the Mountain West tournament title to their regular season crown.
Snell carried New Mexico (29-5) down the stretch, making three 3-pointers and adding a pair of field goals as the Lobos took over in the last 8 minutes of the game to win the conference title.
NO. 16 SAINT LOUIS 67, BUTLER 56
NEW YORK — Dwayne Evans nearly set a career high in points for the second straight game, and Saint Louis’ defense locked down Butler in the second half to advance to its first Atlantic 10 title game.
Evans had 24 points and 11 rebounds a day after going for 25 and nine in the quarterfinals against Charlotte.
NO. 20 MEMPHIS 91,
SOUTHERN MISS 79, 2OT
TULSA, Okla. — Chris Crawford scored 23 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the second overtime, lifting Memphis to its seventh Conference USA tournament title in the past eight years.
Crawford, the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the top-seeded Tigers (30-4) up 78-76 with 2:44 remaining. He also had a jumper and a pair of free throws in a 9-0 run by Memphis soon after that finally put the game away.
Daveon Boardingham scored 19 points and Jonathan Mills had 15 points and 17 rebounds for second-seeded Southern Miss (25-9), which nearly clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Instead, the Golden Eagles must hope to get their second straight at-large bid on Sunday.
NO. 25 VCU 71, UMASS 62
NEW YORK — Troy Daniels made six 3-pointers to score 20 points, and VCU advanced to the Atlantic 10 tournament title game in its first season in the conference.
The Rams will face top-seeded Saint Louis on Sunday in a matchup of the league’s top two teams during the regular season. The Billikens won 76-62 at home in their one meeting Feb. 19.
VCU (26-7) forced 24 turnovers to hold off a pesky Minutemen team that upset Temple in Friday’s quarterfinals.